What you can do about Jamaica’s failing education system
February 14, 2013 5 comments
There are certain things that are always true.
15 years ago as I sat in church with my then 2 year old daughter, I worried about money the way I always do. The pastor said take out your cheque books. Reluctantly I took mine out. He said thumb through it, look for the biggest cheque that you’ve written this month I found it. He said “That is the thing that is most important to you, whether it’s your home, your car or something else. If it isn’t you need to reconcile that, but realize that you speak with your money.” My biggest cheque was my daughter’s daycare/education, it was more than my mortgage, and I was fine with that. It helped me gain some clarity about my own purpose and about being on the right path. He was right, it is true, you spend your money on what you believe is important.
Education is changing
If I told you I had an apple, your first thought would probably be that I meant technology by mac and not an apple from a tree. A red apple used to be the symbol of Education, but technology is changing the dynamics of education. And if we’re not in a position to move forward with the wave of change we’ll be left behind. The technology apple is now the new symbol of education.
The reality of our situation
The reality of the situation is that less than 20% of our students pass CXC, CXC is the standard by which we judge performance and ability to be admitted to university or get a job. The Jamaican Government figures indicate that 40% of students pass CXC, which is bad enough. What happens to the other 60%, but the reality is even more dire. That 40% is 40% of only half of the students that entered high school. The other half elected not to take the exam, they knew they wouldn’t pass. (source: http://www.moe.gov.jm) So what do we do?
The truth is, Jamaican kids are very bright, you need only interact with them to know they’re brimming with potential and not just the Campionites, but the holy childhoods the Andrews the Priory all of them. Unfortunately being bright doesn’t guarantee access to learning resources or the education that you would need in order to be able to compete with the world’s best. If we’re thinking about the world, let’s start with how we compare regionally.
Primary Education – In the region Trinidad spends 15% of GDP, Jamaica 20% and Barbados 23%, however what that translates into Jamaica 1.3K, Trinidad 2.5K and Barbados 3.6K per person. (source gapminder.org 2010) The answer can’t be to ask the Jamaican Government to spend a greater portion of GDP on Education. Unfortunately the pie we have is already very small and shrinking, the percentage is right in the middle, but Jamaica’s GDP is low, and Education is a simpler issue to manage than GDP/productivity at the moment.
So what’s the answer?
The answer is for the private sector to assist in bridging the gap to assist educators in doing more for less. By employing a flipped classroom model we can at least provide greater access to parents and children to materials when they need it so that at any point in the process where there is a breakdown there is also a failsafe. Jamaica Education Television, is such an initiative, it is a public private partnership with the ministry of education. The objective is to outfit schools with televisions, and broadcast the best educational material into those classrooms while making it available to over 600K households on a cable channel and on demand. Children get access to the best content, and use classroom time for more interaction with the teacher after having heard the lecture at home. If we don’t address it now it will not continue to get better if we ignore it, the quality of education available in Jamaica will only spiral downwards.
Flow and Burger King are fully on board….where’s your cheque book?