KINGSTON, JAMAICA— Jamaica’s higher education sector has been in a state of evolution and change over the past several decades, said Minister of Education and Youth, Fival Williams.
He pointed out that universities, community colleges, teacher training colleges and higher professional institutions are responding to changes in the economy and society at the national, regional and international levels.
“In an effort to do this, many institutions are looking for new ways to go elsewhere, taking advantage of the opportunities that new technologies offer by offering new programs or more flexible delivery methods,” Williams said.
The minister was speaking on Wednesday, November 30, during a joint United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)/Jamaica Higher Education Commission (JTEC) webinar titled ‘Beyond Limits: New Ways to Revitalize Higher Education’.
The Williams government has been implementing a systematic and coordinated education and training program through the Ministry of Education.
This, she explained, is a standardized program from pre-primary to secondary level linked to higher education and skills training.
The minister added that in connection with this, there is support for transitioning to the job market upon completion of secondary and/or higher education.
“Discussions are underway to reform critical parts of the higher or higher education sector, including increasing access, funding for students and institutions, and the relevance of programs to the changing needs of the labor market.”
She explained that these discussions were informed and shaped by best practices employed in other jurisdictions.
The Minister added that in the past years, great efforts have been made to establish an improved governance framework for the supervision and management of the higher education sector in Jamaica.
She cited the 2021 report of the Jamaica Education Transformation Commission chaired by Professor Orlando Patterson, which provides impetus for current activities.
“Discussions around higher education and training need to consider how the sector can ensure that programs are deliberately designed to support the changing needs of society and the labor market. This is particularly important in light of the ongoing impact of Covid-19, climate change, global supply chain challenges and inflationary pressures.” Minister Williams said.
Meanwhile, the Minister pointed out that Jamaica’s drive to transform the higher education sector is guided by a number of important goals.
He pointed out that these are aimed at expanding participation in higher education, facilitating multiple ways to access higher education, enabling higher student achievement and completion levels, and improving the results by strengthening the relationship between secondary and higher education institutions.
Other areas of focus are ensuring appropriate and appropriate legislative and regulatory frameworks; Fostering a culture of quality; Integrating technical and multidisciplinary content and skills; Using resources in the education system to alleviate problems; institutionalize flexible and efficient management systems, processes and controls; To contribute meaningfully to socio-economic development and promote globalization.
“We think these are central to a modern system and efficient and sustainable processes. We commend these to UNESCO’s regional and global stakeholders.” Williams said.
She said the Government of Jamaica appreciates that the higher education and training system can make a meaningful and significant contribution to continued strong economic growth.