Crawford lauds NCU for role in transformational education
OPPOSITION spokesman on education and youth, Senator Damion Crawford has commended Northern Caribbean University (NCU) for being “one of the few institutions that understands the wider and larger role of [promoting] values, norms, morals, and ideologies within a society through the education process”.
Speaking recently on the theme ‘National Growth and Development – The End Product of Education’ at the annual William Smith Lecture Series at NCU, Senator Crawford lamented that the Jamaican education system largely ignores the holistic development of people, while concentrating on creating a workforce.
“I will always congratulate NCU for their commitment to a greater level of education, outside of simply creating a person to enter the workforce,” Crawford said during his virtual presentation as a panellist at the public lecture held during the university’s Homecoming Week 2023 celebrations in November.
Other lecture speakers expressed similar sentiments about NCU. Custos of Manchester Garfield Green stated in his greetings that he considered NCU “a remarkable institution — one that is contributing to the growth of our nation, the development of our people.”
Dr Faith Alexander, education transformation officer in the Ministry of Education and Youth, affirmed NCU for prioritising holistic education which values the mind, body and soul. She stated that NCU provided the environment that encouraged personal growth, creativity and spiritual development in its students, which enabled them to embrace challenges, to adapt to an ever-changing world and become agents of change.
“Education is the bedrock of everything — it is the bedrock of how you live your life, how you present yourself, how you develop your nation, how you develop your community,” shared Shannette Smith, daughter of the late Professor William Smith in whose honour the lecture is held annually by the College of Education and Leadership (CEL) at NCU.
This year’s lecture sparked discussion on what the right formula for Jamaica’s education system should be and how the current educational system aligns with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sustainability goals for education for 2030, and Jamaica’s Vision 2030 goals. The need for establishing and sustaining funding for education was also discussed. The work of the Ministry of Education and Youth through its Transforming Education for National Development (TREND) project and the work of the HEART/NSTA Trust were also highlighted.
In delivering the keynote address, NCU President Professor Lincoln Edwards gave an overview of the UNESCO sustainable goals for 2023, how education has impacted poverty and inequality in the world, and the efforts of the Government and NCU to improve the delivery and quality of education as a product. He noted that, according to the Orlando Patterson Report of 2021, in Jamaica less than 30 per cent of the population was accessing tertiary education and the most vulnerable in the society only had tertiary education as a “passport to economic security and a stable future”. The NCU president also stated that no one should be left behind and that the technology of distance/digital education should be utilised to provide more access to education and more access to lifelong learning.
“Higher education is a rich cultural-scientific asset, which enables personal development, promotes economic, technical, and social change,” noted Professor Edwards.
The late Professor William Smith was a vice-president of academic administration for NCU, and a renowned educator and agriculturalist in Jamaica. He was a former principal of the Sydney Pagon STEM Academy (formerly Elim Agricultural High School), and a former academic dean at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE, formerly College of Agriculture).
Among those bringing greetings was president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, Leighton Johnson. Panellists were Senator Damion Crawford; Dr Othneil Scott, immediate past president of the South Florida NCU Alumni Chapter; Dr Marcia Rowe Amonde, senior director of standards, curriculum and learning resource development at the Human Employment and Resource Training /National Service Training Agency Trust (HEART/NSTA). The moderator was a former NCU president, Dr Sylvan Lashley.