Create a multi-shift country to end poverty, says credit union boss

BY LUKE DOUGLAS Career & Education senior reporter douglasl@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 23, 2011

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CHIEF executive officer of GSB Co-operative Credit Union Courtney Lodge is calling for all schools, factories, businesses and the courts to operate on at least two shifts as a way to create more jobs and alleviate poverty.

He is challenging the Government, Opposition and the private sector to take the bold step to "open Jamaica for business 24/7, 365 (24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year)".

The youthful credit union boss, who is not afraid of proposing what he calls big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAGs) about business and governance, said the country's underutilised capacity should be put to work.

"Jamaica, believe it or not, has excess capacity in many areas, and these are being underutilised and even wasted," he said.

If Jamaica could create a safe environment and have public transport running throughout the night, there could be up to three
shifts in factories, schools, business and the courts, Lodge reasoned.

"With this change, we could educate at least twice the number of students in the same number of buildings. We wouldn't be talking about finding (money) to build another 30, 40, 50 schools," he said.

The result would be more jobs in the transport and retail sectors, in education, manufacturing and in the legal system, and smaller class sizes in schools.

"We saw what Fashion's Night Out did," Lodge said in reference to the Jamaica Observer-organised annual celebration of Fashion's Night Out in September. "I would rather to go shopping at 2:00 am because I don't want everybody seeing me and (getting) in my business."

Lodge's view runs counter to that of most experts in education who say that the shift system should be abolished in schools because students do not have enough contact time with teachers.

However, it is not clear whether there are any empirical studies on the effect of the shift system in Jamaican schools.

Lodge, who rose from being a struggling student at Tacky High in St Mary to become the youngest superintendent in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and a motivational speaker and author, proposed two other BHAGs at the function.

They are the establishment of the United States of the Caribbean (USC) with its federal capital located in Jamaica, and operating Jamaica like a world-class business.

The USC would be similar to the United States of America and the federal capital in Jamaica would be like the USA's capital Washington, DC -- commonly owned and funded by all the other states but not being a state in itself.

"We would have to give our sovereignty and be owned by all of these (other Caribbean) countries (but) the USC president, seat of government, central bank and other facilities most likely would have to be developed here in Jamaica; employment opportunities for Jamaicans. People from all over the Caribbean would have to come here too," he said.

"Isn't it better to have a smaller stake in a larger Caribbean than a 100 per cent stake in a small Jamaica?" he queried.

In developing Jamaica as a business, emphasis should be placed on development of the people.

"It is better to have excellent people and an ordinary prime minister, than to have an ordinary people and an excellent prime minister," Lodge said.

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