Jamaica develops National Qualifications Framework

Jamaica develops National Qualifications Framework

Thursday, February 16, 2017

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JAMAICA on Wednesday joined more than 100 countries across the globe in establishing a National Qualifications Framework, which will systematise all levels of learning achievement to ensure that the skills and knowledge that have been learned are recognised throughout the country.

The National Qualifications Framework of Jamaica (NQF-J), which was conceptualised in 2013 and spearheaded by the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission, will improve educational quality in the country; consolidate the delivery of education and training under a single framework; expand access to learning and work opportunity for all and make it easier for learners to enter the education systems and to progress further.

Under this framework, individuals who have acquired skills and knowledge outside of a formal learning environment will be able to gain credits from what they have gained through the Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR).

Speaking at the launch of the framework Wednesday at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid said with the onset of globalisation and the mobility of the workforce in the Caribbean and elsewhere, it was necessary to put a system in place that standardises qualifications that are recognised at home and abroad.

Reid, who dubbed the materialisation of the framework a historic moments for the country, said: "This is one of the happiest moment for me; today’s launch is among the latest in a series of reforms to the education sector that has been taking place over a number of years."

According to the minister, the framework is very critical and significant, given the fact that the country’s formal education system, which includes more than 990 primary and preparatory schools; more than 180 high schools — public and private; 15 tertiary institutions; four established universities; several off-shore universities and more than 150 vocational training centres and other private training institutions, have been working with a system that has been largely based on a traditional 20th century model that is inadequate to meet the demands of the 21st century workplace.

"The old model was expected to churn out workers for an industrial-based economy where education and training were content-centred and required an ability to regurgitate what was presented earlier.

The new model demands skilled employees who are flexible and adaptive to production."

Furthermore, Minister Reid said the framework is one way of bridging the gap between academic qualification and technical vocational qualification.

"In addition, the matriculation and articulation requirements of the NQF-J allow persons to get credits for courses done whether through apprenticeship or in the formal system.

"The NQF-J therefore levels the playing field by neutralising all qualifications so multiple pathways and multiple assessments will allow all persons to be qualified by age 30," he said.

President and chief executive officer of the Commonwealth of Learning, Asha Kanwar, via a video broadcast, congratulated Jamaica on developing its own qualification framework.

"This is an important milestone in enhancing the quality and relevance of tertiary education in Jamaica," she said. "With so much experience and expertise in designing qualifications framework the NQF-J is bound to be model for those still grappling with this issue."

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