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PSTOC head wants value of public sector taught in schools

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

CO-CHAIRMAN of the Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee Danny Roberts wants the education sector to incorporate, as part of its social studies curriculum at primary and high school levels, the value and importance of the public sector to national development.

“And to inculcate in the minds of our students that the study of public sector transformation, rather than rock formation, is far more critical in furthering the country's development agenda,” Roberts told a Jamaica Teachers' Association's (JTA) annual education week symposium at the Kendal Camp and Conference Centre, recently.

Roberts said that the JTA ought not to be thinking about what public sector transformation can do for them, but of what they can do to further the process of public sector transformation.

“There is a need to create a culture of continuous learning in the public sector, and there is much that we need to know about the emerging concept of learning organisations, and organisations of learning as it applies to the public service,” he stated.

He noted that the Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee (PSTOC), which he heads, had overseen the successful implementation of all 14 structural benchmarks under the public sector transformation programme, as set out in the Precautionary Standby Arrangement between the Government of Jamaica and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He pointed out, however, that this was only one aspect of the transformation process, in which changes have to take place in the way things are done in the public sector, and the upgrading of the processes and technology to achieve greater efficiency.

The PSTOC co-chairman, however, cautioned against the belief that carrying out these important steps of reform will be sufficient to achieve transformation.

“There is a fundamental difference between change and transition, and over 70 per cent of all organisational change efforts fail to meet expectations and deliver planned results because too much attention is focused on what to manage, such as goals, strategies, action plans. What is often ignored is how to lead people through transition,” Roberts, who also heads the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute at The University of the West Indies, Mona, said.

Roberts said that PSTOC will shortly commence 'organisational conversations' with public sector workers to ensure there is high levels of engagement, tight strategic alignment and operational flexibility.

He added that these conversations must be interactive, inclusive and intentional, and that the leadership in the public sector must power their organisation and empower their workers through conversation-based practices.

He said that despite the efforts of the IMF and the Government, and the measure of success that Jamaica has been able to achieve so far in terms of macroeconomic stability and fiscal management, the country has not been able to achieve robust and sustainable growth, and address the issue of the growing income equality.

“The building of quality institutions through public sector reform is an important pillar to economic growth, but if economic growth and improvements in the living standards of the people remain elusive, then the development model needs to be re-examined,” he said.

He asserted that since that, in the last decade, there has been much debate about alternative development paradigm, because of the failure of mainstream development to deliver on promises of social development.

The education sector, he argued, needs to become far more robust in its research on possible alternative models of development to ensure that the outcome of public sector transformation is beneficial to all Jamaicans.