Lifelong learning for literacy and sustainable development

BY Worrel Hibbert

Monday, September 08, 2014

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In its World Literacy Day theme, 'Literacy and Sustainable Development' UNESCO has underscored the critical link between socioeconomic upliftment and education. History and current experience demonstrate that, where people are educated, they empower themselves and their communities across generations, often breaking the cycle of poverty and transforming whole nations.

Beginning this new academic year, Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) has acted on the mandate of the Ministry of Education to implement the High School Diploma Equivalency (HSDE) programme for adult learners. This new programme presents an exciting opportunity for sustainable development at the national level. It will allow any adult, irrespective of their age or educational status to enter the classroom and secure 5 CSEC subjects, including mathematics and English language.

When fully implemented across the island, it will significantly expand the opportunities for people to acquire the qualifications needed to access skills and tertiary training. It will facilitate learners not only at their educational level, but at real and virtual locations convenient to them.

The HSDE presents a significant economic development opportunity for several stakeholders; offering personal development and advancement to the individual, improved labour resources for industry, and national growth and development for all.

The Jamaican society also stands to benefit tremendously from this programme. It will create and facilitate opportunities for improved governance, justice, social integration, and cultural expression through the tools of comprehension and balanced inquiry that are provided by a comprehensive education.

This initiative to assure the development of the nation through education represents the commitment of the Ministry of Education and the JFLL to the long-term development of Jamaica through adult education.

At this juncture in our history, perhaps more than at other times, we are faced with tremendous opportunities for far-reaching development and investment. We must all be prepared to seize and maximise them. Education is the most powerful tool at our disposal, which only requires us to reach out and seize it. Those who do will be able to prosper and prove the truism of UNESCO's vision of literacy and sustainable development.

The JFLL is an agency of the Ministry of Education charged with the execution of adult and youth learning and lifelong learning interventions from basic literacy to the secondary level. JFLL operates over 27 education centres across Jamaica thereby living up to its motto "Lifelong Learning for Lifelong Opportunities".

Worrel Hibbert is executive director at Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning.

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