MINISTER of Education Ronald Thwaites is pushing for a skills based education system, which he says is the way of the future.
Addressing the Vision 2030 Jamaica National Development Plan Essay competition awards ceremony held at the Planning Institute of Jamaica Thursday, the minister said education should be related to the needs of the workforce.
"It is the intention of the Ministry of Education, and I hope it will be endorsed by the planners and the forward thinkers of this country within the state and beyond it, to indicate that every young person must leave school with at least one skill, one marketable skill, and must have the background to that skill that will allow them to multiply that skill to other directions," he said.
The minister noted that in the past, many persons, while receiving an education, were not certain for what they were being educated. This kind of education, while good, is not pointed enough, he explained.
Thwaites noted that the people who are about to invest in Jamaica want to know whether or not the country has "the trained workers who are appropriately socialised and able to deliver, both in terms of their skills and their willingness to achieve high levels of productivity to sustain the high level of investment they are making."
He stated that if the country did not have this, then the end result will be that investors will import the workforce and the country will be adversely affected.
The minister emphasised that literacy and numeracy are no longer optional for students and lamented the society's complacency with mediocrity. He noted that Jamaica is spending 6.5 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education, a higher figure than many other countries in the Caribbean and is not getting the requisite outcome.
While lauding the creativity of the Jamaican people, he said that one of the challenges of education and of achieving Vision 2030, "is that we are going to have to elicit and recognize the expressive talents of all our students."
Vision 2030 Jamaica is the country's first long-term national development plan, which aims at enabling Jamaica to achieve developed country status by 2030. It is based on a comprehensive vision: 'Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.'
"Many students do not learn in the old traditional ways and many of them have skills which are marketable and which can be used also as prisms for other kinds of learning, more traditional learning, if we only allow them the openness, the freedom, the development, the epiphany of spirits that can make such a big difference," the minister said.
The minister applauded the winners of the essay competition, all of whom are from rural Jamaica.
Entries in the competition were divided into two categories. In category I for students 10 to 14 years, students were required to write an essay between 1,000 and 1,500 words in length on any one of two topics: 'How can I contribute to making Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business by the year 2030' or 'From what you know about Jamaica's vision for the year 2030, discuss how it will help you achieve your personal ambitions'.
The winner in this category was Kadejah Stanley of Inverness Primary in St Ann.
In the second category, students 15-19 years were asked to compose an essay, 2,000 to 2,500 words in length, on any one of the following topics: 'What are the benefits of the country having a long-term plan such as vision 2030 Jamaica?' or 'The values and attitudes of individuals and the society, as a whole, will play an integral role in the achievement of vision 2030 Jamaica'.
Victoria Bedward of William Knibb High School in Trelawny emerged winner of this category.