Unleashing the Full Capability of Jamaica’s Brainpower – Part 2, the Vision

Honorable Andrew Holness was in Washington DC and took some time to address the diaspora about his plans for continuing the transformation of Jamaica’s education system.

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Hon. Andrew Holness, Minister of Education

In my prior post, I captured the challenges he faces.   I will now share the elements of his comprehensive solution.

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  1. First is giving focus to early childhood education by holding parents accountable.
  2. Next is raising the standard of teaching through performance pay, and ensuring that the modeling of this profession provides consistent high standards.
  3. Improve the school system infrastructure through public/private partnerships.  The goal is to build 200 new schools, with the building of 45 new high schools given top priority.

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Let’s explore the implications of each leg of this platform.  First, the parenting element. I do not know of a teacher of the primary age kids that do not lament about the state of the home.  My reading has led me to believe that if the child have not developed the trait of self control by age 3, their ability to do so later is much diminished.  Minister Holness raised the role of parenting as being one of the public good, a definition that has not achieved public consensus.  Prime Minister Golding in a recent address to educators raised the issue this way.

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Prime Minister Bruce Golding says democracy does not apply to the rearing of children. He said, “As committed as I am to democracy, there is no democracy in bringing up children. There are rules that have to be laid down; there is a certain standard of behaviour that must be demanded and when it is not forthcoming, it must be sanctioned.”

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This is heavy duty as it is the cross section of the supremacy of the family unit and the power of the state, even with good intention.  it is a debate that we all need to enter to give shape and substance to this most vital component.

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Next, teachers are the catalyst that inspire and transmit the knowledge needed by the students to succeed.  It is a profession where the rewards of student achievement outweighs the monetary rewards.  This is however not a universal understanding , in addition to the extra demands being required.

Thus a platform of universal accountability is needed that would provide incentives for performance beyond the expected performance. The performance measure also involves moral modeling as teachers may be the only person of organized togetherness that the student may be expose to.

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The final leg of the education transformation stool is infrastructure.  The thinking here goes beyond the traditional government owning the facility, but private ownership of said facility and the government entering into contract to use the facility.The primary benefit is the reduce the debt burden of the government, while leveraging the excellent record of the government not defaulting on its obligation as collateral.

This out of the box thinking is required as the amount of capital needed for building 200 schools is not chicken feed.  The estimate is $1B, yes US$.

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To help raise the funding , a national education trust fund in the form of a diaspora bond is being formulated.  A diaspora bond had been successfully used in Israel and India to achieve great things in these countries.  There are other private investors ready to engage in this endeavor.  However, they want to see more folks willing to put some  skin in the game. Members of the diaspora investing in this endeavor will give a confidence in their homeland in a far reaching manner. This instrument is slated to be available by the end of 2009.

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An eternal truth is clearly at work here, without a vision, the people perish.   Minister Holness has outlined a bold game plan that can achieve broad-based social mobility through education reformation.

  • He understands that trust is the vital element to get buy in, and the government’s performance will be watched closely.
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  • He mentioned that corruption will find no refuge in this government, and pointed to the expunging of this cancer from the police ranks as evidence of how serious this issue is being taken.

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I heartily support his game plan and admire the scope and depth of his understanding of developing human futures.

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I have two areas of concern that I hope to see a fleshing out by Minister Holness. The first is how will he get the leaders of our present elitist system to adopt a broad-based approach  as they are key stakeholders.

An overly intrusive  role of the government in parenting is a concern. I do understand the frustration of the government and the  calamitous effects of poor parenting.

  • How can marriage be encouraged and strengthen?
  • What role can the church play in supporting the educational initiative by buttressing the home front?

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– See more at: http://blogs.jamaicans.com/metinking/unleashing-the-full-capability-of-jamaica%e2%80%99s-brainpower-part-2-the-vision/#sthash.mPZBJM9c.dpuf