How can we, in clear conscience, begrudge a few million dollars more for pre-tertiary education when we have chronically neglected quality education for so long while we splurge on far less important matters, waste and corruption?
Moreover, our poorly-managed economy does not offer parents, particularly the many poor ones, employment opportunities enough for them to afford school fees of thousands of dollars, on top of the daily lunch, transport and books and incidentals.
Education cannot wait until our fortunes improve; it’s a burning priority and must be accepted as such by all governments.
When will we wake up to the fact that people are our most important assets and quality education is a tool to improve this asset to realise the maximum potential? How long can we ignore these fundamentals?
Emphasis on education
All the examples of progressive third world countries are based on the emphasis they placed on education. Jamaica spends only one-fifth of what Trinidad and Barbados spend on pre-tertiary education per child. They are now covering free or part-free tertiary education.
India’s persistent nine per cent gross domestic product growth is powered by the sacrifice made to prioritise high-quality education (in some cases superior to United States Ivy league standard), some 30-40 years ago.
The country now produces 250,000 IT engineers among others, annually and world businesses are falling over each other to utilise them in India, U..S. and Europe. Many went abroad, gained experience and resources, and are now powering India’s aggressive industrial growth.
Coming from being a backwater country 25-30 years ago, Singapore now boasts the number one quality science-based education (U.S. rates number 12 and South Korea, another previous backwater country, is now rated number two).
These hitherto very poor countries now enjoy superior economic and social progress because years ago they made the sacrifice and put the correct priority on education.
Ireland is another country which has enjoyed 10 years of good growth because they first positioned education as priority.
There are ample examples of countries which moved ahead because they put the right emphasis on good education which increases productivity, employment opportunities, reduces inter-personal conflicts and crimes and impact a society in countless positive ways, which are presently absent in Jamaica because we have the wrong focus on education.
Our society is far too violent and crime-ridden, our politics too immature and corrupt, and our religiousness too irrational, fundamental and intolerant for us not to recognise the critical need for quality education for our citizens .
I am, etc.,
L. A. BERT RAMSAY
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