Golding: Limit some degree programmes, courses at UWI

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 11, 2018

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FORMER Prime Minister Bruce Golding is proposing that The University of the West Indies (UWI) limits admission to several degree programmes and courses being offered there.

Golding was speaking to sixth form students at Ardenne High School in St Andrew last Wednesday when he made the statement.

“I spoke to vice chancellor about it. I said we need to start curtailing admission to some of these courses. He said, 'Boy, if you do that you going to affect the cash flow because that's where they are prepared to pay the money.' But if we are producing [for example] so many mass communication people we [are] going to get to a stage where we have more communications than the people that we are supposed to be communicating with,” said Golding, who currently serves as honorary distinguished fellow at the UWI.

He said the suggestion forms part of several plans he was unable to “get to” due to his departure from office.

Golding said an arrangement was to be put in place with the Government-run Students' Loan Bureau (SLB) to push funding into the sciences and technology as the world moves toward the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution'.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is noted as the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres, collectively referred to as cyber-physical systems.

“I wanted to change the arrangement of the Students' Loan Bureau to say 'Look, if you want to study bioengineering, it is an area in critical need. If the Students' Loan interest rate is seven per cent, we'll make you study that at two per cent or maybe zero per cent. We would say to students, for every one year you work in Jamaica, whether it's public or private sector, we would write off six months of you student loan,” he said.

“We have to start nudging, guiding our frame of education to do two things: To recognise human resource needs that Jamaica's development has, but also to understand that we can't prepare students only for manning a gas station. You have to prepare them for the challenges of this new world,” he added.

Golding argued that the world is moving away from “a career for life” and towards “a life of career”. The university, he said, has a key role to play in this regard.

“Students have to be prepared to be flexible. They have to prepare to say, all right, I start out doing this, but since the technology has shifted, since the revolution has scrambled up everything, I now must be able to shift to something else. That is going to require something special.

“I give a quotation that I found very interesting. This is from a guy called Alvin Toffler, who is what they call a futurist. He said this, 'The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but rather will be those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn'. That's life long learning,” Golding stated.

In the same breath, he said that the current structure of the education system in the region is limiting high achievers.

“It is my view and that view is held more fervently now because of what I see happening globally. We need to find a pathway for the high achievers; for those who have demonstrated that they have a potential to break ground where nobody has gone before.

“I say that in the context of what we recommended in terms of a Caribbean centre for research and innovation. Because, quite frankly, if we can make sure that our brightest and best, those that have significant potential— let's make sure that they can go forward, because if they go forward and do their thing they will create opportunities for the rest of us,” said Golding.

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