Government policy is an important set of dictates which aid in the development of a country. In the absence of an active set of government policies countries simply drift along without direction, akin to a ship lost at sea.
Jamaica as a nation cannot be accused of not having an active set of policies. Historically, Jamaica has always been active on the policy front. Despite this, however, there are some areas that still need to be considered for policy positions with a view to moving the needle on development matters. Two such areas for consideration by this and future governments are:
1)The training of enough nurses and teachers to allow for the exportation of labour without any negative effect on local availability of such professionals
2)Positioning Jamaica to fill senior positions in various global entities
It is not a secret that a large number of Jamaican teachers and nurses seek to be employed in North America and/or England. The casual debate around this ranges from disloyalty of those who seek to leave Jamaica to the idea that, since teachers and nurses are drawn to what seems to be greener pastures, we should be proactive and train enough people in these professions to meet the local and international need.
Many who contribute to this debate refer to Cuba and India as examples of how the policy of the exportation of labour can benefit a country. Additionally, there are those who make the point that in addition to benefits to the country from remittances, the exportation of nurses and teachers could provide exposure for a large number of Jamaicans who will eventually return to the health and education sectors of the country.
There is never a time when capacity development is negative. As it stands, the country exports labour for hotels and farms, and on visiting communities across the island one can immediately see the benefits to families of our workers who traverse abroad to work on temporary programmes arranged through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
There are benefits to training and exporting labour and Jamaica should consider implementing this at the policy level.
The recent effort by Senator Kamina Johnson Smith in her bid for secretary general of the Commonwealth led to a sense of pride, heated arguments, and divisions in some quarters. More than anything else, what is not being discussed are factors outside of partisanship which led to some of the local debate on the candidature.
Occasionally, Jamaica puts forward candidates for positions within Caricom, the UN, and other such entities. Rarely, though, are these candidates for top jobs. Using the Jamaican parlance, candidates are put up for "big work" but not for jobs to run the entities in question. It is in this vacuum that many Jamaicans found fodder for the negativity which arose with the efforts of Jamaica and Senator Johnson Smith to challenge Baroness Patricia Scotland. There are countries, such as Rwanda, that make it a habit to ensure they put forward candidates for top international jobs as a way of ensuring that their country has a voice on the international stage. There can be no question that there are benefits gained from such a strategy.
Kamina Johnson Smith, for those who know her personally and for many who do not, represents dignity, assiduousness, professionalism, dependability, and all that is good about Jamaica. On reflection, it is a pity that many among us do not understand that partisanship and personal feelings must never take precedence over Jamaica and its representatives. Loyalty to one's country must never be clouded by negativity or a need for one-upmanship.
Due to the manner in which Minister Johnson Smith ran her race there is no doubt that Jamaica, though not victorious in this instance, is poised and should consider the placement of its people in top jobs as a policy position. Once this becomes the norm and expressed as such, the people of this proud land will understand that the race by the senator is not unusual for countries with a certain agenda and a desire to gain prominence for the nation and its people.
Natalie Campbell-Rodriques is a senator and development consultant with a focus on political inclusion, governance, gender, and Diaspora affairs. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or email@example.com.