Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, says the country's education system ranks highly with those of other countries, particularly developed nations, whose standards Jamaica surpasses in many instances.
Speaking at Northern Caribbean University’s (NCU) colloquium at its central campus in Mandeville, Manchester, earlier this week, Rev. Thwaites said that level has been achieved with less Gross National Product (GNP) than many of those countries.
Consistent with the goals and targets of Vision 2030 Jamaica, Rev. Thwaites pointed out that the country currently has almost 100 per cent coverage for registration of children in primary schools, with an attendance record averaging 80 per cent.
Vision 2030 Jamaica is the country’s first long-term national development plan, which aims at enabling Jamaica to achieve developed country status by 2030. It is based on a comprehensive vision: “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business."
The Minister further informed that enrolment in secondary institutions currently averaged 90 per cent, while one third of the cohort of tertiary education is provided for by the more than 17 universities and colleges registered in Jamaica (which offer) more than 50 accredited courses.
"The very best of our system produces quality which transcends even the best of the developed world. When our students, who have done well at the ‘pedigreed’ secondary institutions in Jamaica go abroad to attend universities, they usually can skip a year…because of the quality of education that they received here,” he pointed out.
Rev. Thwaites attributed this to significant advancements that have occurred in local education over the past 50 years, since Jamaica gained political independence in 1962. This, he noted, entailed private and public stakeholders investing “heavily” in the sector to educate the nation, based on the “groundswell of people…who understood that education was the way forward."
Acknowledging that challenges exist within the sector, Rev. Thwaites underscored the need for the society to “assess where education is going, in order to restore the understanding that education is the number one priority of the nation."
The University’s colloquium, held under the theme: ‘The Relevance of Seventh-Day Adventist Higher Education in Today’s Global Environment’, was convened to unveil and discuss plans for the institution’s expansion and development. Over 100 delegates and guests attended the two-day seminar, which ended on August 21.