Adult education too vital to be marred by uncertainty, MOE


Adult education too vital to be marred by uncertainty, MOE

Friday, December 13, 2019

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A report by the Jamaica Observer regarding the failure of the Ministry of Education-promoted Occupational Associate Degree programme, through its Centre of Occupational Studies, to confer credentials to hundreds of eager graduates has left yet another pall over this very important Government institution.

That it took an Observer front-page exposé for the ministry to address the concerns of the near-400 students after a wait of over a year is itself an indictment.

The Observer recalls the graduation ceremony in December of last year as celebrations were mounted, speeches made, and photo opportunities seized by ministry officials, among them now-deposed Minister of Education Senator Ruel Reid. Such occasions are always considered the end of a journey, but it seems the proverbial cart was put before the horse.

Word that students have yet to be issued with degree instruments after two years of study and abiding by the programme guidelines cannot be explained away as mere administrative delay or matters relating to accreditation as the ministry indicates that “all seven institutions have commenced the issuing of the associate degree”. What, then, accounts for which students are granted degrees and which aren't?

This untidy and seemingly unmethodical state of affairs ought not to characterise matters that prepare candidates for the modern world of work.

Even more troubling are allegations from students that some work submissions by the cohort remain unassessed. This gives rise to the belief that this may well be a Pandora's box of maladministration.

This entire episode gives rise to a number of questions about which the ministry should feel at liberty to provide clarity:

Why were the students not advised there would be delays in the issuance of degrees, whether because of reported accreditation concerns or otherwise?

What is the effect of the issued undated 'Certificate of Recognition'?

What, specifically, barred the issuance of degrees at the graduation ceremony, seeing students had successfully completed the course of study and accreditation is not a requirement for degrees to be issued?

Are the allegations of unassessed student submissions in any way true?

With not much sensitisation of the nation, including employers, to the new Occupational Associate Degree, what truly does it qualify a holder to do?

Will these associate degrees, after accreditation, be accepted by local universities for matriculation to higher studies with the appropriate exemptions?

The Ministry of Education has a responsibility to the students who read for their degrees. That the course of study is fully sponsored by the Government makes this no less an unacceptable situation and a blot on the administrators of the programme.

At this juncture, it matters not who the malefactor is; what is required is that the situation be made right.

Apologise; fix it quickly, fix it now.

The business of education in a progressive country with ambitions of First World standing cannot be hamstrung by such uncertainty and carelessness.

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