Why has higher education not transformed Jamaica

This is the question on the lips of many. Is it that we are educating people in the wrong field.

For example why does a small country like Jamaica need so many lawyers, why do we need to produce so many lawyers and what value do they add the Jamaican economy?

Based on Data from the General Legal Council Jamaica has 1248 registered and practicing lawyers.

On the Technical side and data from the Professional Engineering Registered Board, Jamaica has 421 registered ( not necessarily practicing) Engineers.

With a population of lets say 2.7 million people the ratios are looking like this.

Ratio of people to lawyer is 1890 persons per lawyer

Ratio of people to Engineers is 6413 persons per Engineer.

I suspect the ratio of people to Engineers is over 10,000 to one as many who are registered are not practicing

Clearly we have a problem in this country with the number of Technical people , which is what a developing country needs if it really intends to move forward.

Many lawyers are in politics and so you have two professions where the reputation is less than admirable, then we wonder why Jamaica never appears to be on a path to economic growth and development.

We simply do not have enough of the our people trained in the right areas.

Jamaica needs more engineers and technicians and this is where we must focus our spending if we intend to have sustained growth and development.



What is the PNP’s preoccupation with the JLP’s ” empty” promises ?

I find it quite odd that firstly Delano Franklyn and now Portia Simpson Miller are so concerned about the JLP’s empty promises, that they are taking to the airwaves to warn the people about these ” empty” promises.

If I believed that my opponents promises are stupid and unrealistic and I believe the voters are smart, I would not waste my breath to ask the JLP to explain to the people how it will fund free education, why would I do so?

The fact is if the people are smart and vote on issues, they will be able to discern for themselves that the JLP is talking bullshit and this therefore would have zero impact on their decision on who to vote for come election time.

The fact that the PNP is making so much noise about this issue is a clear indication that it has struck a nerve and is not “empty” promises as the PNP would like for the voters to believe.  Not only that, the fact they have come out so strongly against it, is a clear indication that those talks have gain traction amongst the people and the PNP are genuinely  worried.

If the JLP promise are empty the PNP should shut up and keep quiet about it vs their continued promotion of these which incidentally are gaining traction in particularly among the many parents who simply cannot afford to fund their children’s  education.

Playing around with GSAT placement

The Minister of Education recently announced that starting this year, students in the GSAT exam, will be placed at schools nearest to their homes, this is known as zoning. Ideally this not a bad idea at all, but in the Jamaican really is it  the right thing to do at this time ?

We simply can’t just make up the policies as we go along, instead we need to plan, prepare and then execute if we expect to get good results.

We have over the years placed schools in various areas depending on who is the Member of Parliament and whatever representation he may have made to his colleague ministers. There is no Urban or Rural Planning process that is used to determine where best to place schools and the feeder schools which will feed into these plus the size and geographic area in which people live and the group of cohorts the school will be catering to.

We therefore end up with schools in areas where no one would want to send their kids as not only is their lack of access to road, water and other facilities, but the school was never designed to give the results we desire for nation building

Schools are not properly laid out, the grounds are largely open to animals and every Tom, Dick and Harry and does not meet the basic requirements for effective learning to take place.

Due to the inequity in the existing system, what we likely to see is students who despite the challenges, perform well, only relegated to the schools where they live, without due regard for how that school environment may negatively impact that child. At the same time it means that kids who are not doing well, have little of no chance of aspiring to anything as the school they are to be placed in, are designed for failure.

It therefore means that before this system goes into effect, the ministry must accept for a fact that schools are not equal and  must work to improve the situation in the schools, then move to the stage of whole scale zoning.

If this is not done, than all that will happen is that the MOE will be seen as  trying to maintain the status quo, by keeping so called up town schools for uptown kids and downtown schools for downtown kids particularly in the urban areas ie Kingston and St Andrew.

This is certainly not the intent, but this is how it is likely to play out once the placement process begins.

Now the Minister was not very clear on the methodology to be used and really it was irresponsible of him to make the statement he made without providing any further details.

One school of thought is the zoning will only apply to kids who got low scores on the GSAT, but without a definite statement from the minister, this is simply guess work.

Problems at Morant Bay High School has now been resolved

The problems at Morant Bay high, which started when the new Principal Dr Dalton Shaw took over the reigns at the school a few months ago, have now been resolved.

Commonsenseja has learned that Dr Shaw has been fired by the school board ( he will say he has resigned)  and the board will now go in search of a new Principal.

Dr Dalton Shaw was hired after been booted from Mineral Heights Primary after an investigation was launched into his alleged uncouth conduct by the Ministry of Education, the results of which were never made public by the Ministry.

Dr Shaw has been accused of uncouth behaviour, plagiarism and down right laziness by the school. Even more damning is that  a parent had written to the school board and a copy of that letter was also sent to Cisoca, who I am told is conducting its own investigation.

The allegations against the Principal are very damning and brings into very sharp focus the work that the Ministry of education must do to keep certain predators out of the education system.

It cannot be that we speak about protecting the kids, while we have predators running around and who have the potential to cause serious harm to the kids and the education system. Note, the information is said to be allegations at this stage, but I have certain information to suggest the problem is much bigger than this, but will allow the process to work as it is designed to.

I do hope the problem does not get transferred to some place in the “bush schools”, which is what typically happens in instances like these.

Commonsenseja will keep a keen eye on what takes place after this.

Major problems at prominent St Thomas High School

Commonsenseja has come across certain information to suggest that there are major issues surrounding a prominent High School in the eastern parish of St Thomas. The problem seems to surround the actions or lack thereof, of its recently installed principal, who is said to have a Doctorate in Theology.

Residents of the parish, the school community including teachers and the members of the school board, were left extremely embarrassed recently at the schools 5th form graduation.

The embarrassment surrounds the principals message, which was said to be riddled with errors and at the extreme end, it was reported that when a word could not be pronounced, it was spelled out to the those in attendance. It was at this point in time that folks became really taken aback and was shocked that  someone at this level could have done this at a public function.

It did not stop there however, as it was later revealed that names of teachers who were no longer working at the institution for as long as up to three years were recognized in this speech, which really was for teacher who are currently working at the institution. A few were able to recognize significant elements of the speech, which was later to found to have been plagiarized from speeches of past principals with very little variation.

We understand that the language be used to address students is of particular concern due to the crassness of the spoken words, which was said to be unbecoming of a principal of a premier educational institution.

We also understand that one parent was so upset about something that was said to her child by the principal, that she wrote a strongly worded letter to him on the matter. There are some other allegations that have been leveled against the principal but these are too serious to report at this time without conclusive written statements from those involved.

We understand the the disciplinary arm of the board is set to meet with the principal later this week to further discuss the allegations that have be made and which has been brought to their( the boards) attention.

Commonsenseja as you know, decided to go a bit further, to determine if there may have been some mischief on the part of those making the allegations, but low and behold, we found evidence of the same pattern of behaviour of the principal, which resulted in the Ministry of Education headed by Ronnie Thawaites launching an investigation into the school he was principal of in 2013.

The outcome of this probe is unknown, but what is known, is the problem appears to have  been transferred from that institution to the one in St Thomas.

When a prominent media personality, who happens to be a past student of the school can call repeatedly to get information on the performance of the school in the recent CSEC exam and is met with a wall silence, you know something is wrong.

Commonsenseja is urging the ministry to urgently investigate the allegations being made, some of which are very damning and ensure that this school is afforded the kind of leadership it is used to and deserves.

See the link below.


Jamaicans show true human spirit by helping young woman to study medicine !

This is absolutely  one of the best stories hitting the newspapers for the entire year and one that made me once again have some hope about the future of Jamaica.

A young woman who did very well and CSEC and CAPE but had no money to go study medicine in China. The dad went as far as to put up his house for sale just to get her school to get his daughter into school.

Today the Sunday Observer has a follow and honestly I felt so good reading this piece, where Jamaicans came out and contributed to the dad so he could send off his child to university.

Well done Jamaica .


If I had my way, illiterate people would NEVER be allowed to vote

I know this will be a very controversial topic and I expects the bleeding hearts to suggests the following

  1. The writer is being classist given the fact that its the least fortunate amongst us who cannot read and write.
  2. The guys smacks on being an elitist and wants to remove the rights our forefathers fought for in sweat and blood years ago.
  3. This is quite a dumb idea as it would mean more than half of the country would be disenfranchised , the mere thought of that is utterly disgusting and preposterous.
  4. Typical Jamaican who does not respect the rights of others.
  5. This is not a communist country, so go to hell with that rather bad idea.
  6. What about those very good tradesmen/women in this country who are experts in their fields but were unfortunate not being able to read and write, should we take away their right.

Now examine all those possible reactions above objectively once you have finished reading this remainder of this column.

It has been reported that the level of productivity in Jamaica has fallen over the last 40 years partly due to the inability of a large portion of the working population to read and write properly, which in turn affects their ability to be properly trained.

The carnage on the road is partly due to the inability of many of our drivers to read properly and so fails to abide by the road codes as of course they cannot read them. They have however managed to obtain drivers licenses by obviously corrupt methods since the could not pass the written test. We then send these folks on the roads to maim and kill 300 Jamaicans per year.

The Jamaican men are said to be very violent partly because of their inability to communicate properly due to their limited vocabulary, so in a discussion curse words punctuate every sentence and ” You seet, and you zee me” form part of each sentence.  Being unable to read limits your vocabulary making in difficult to have good and coherent conversations.

Now don’t get me wrong,  I am well aware that many of our skilled tradesmen are unable to properly read and write but that has not stopped many of them from doing a good job in their respective fields, they are however in the minority.

In order to move a country forward the residents of that country must be able to grasps the basic of reading, writing and arithmetic as these are the fundamentals blocks on which the nation is going to be built .

When these basic things are not in place it limits one’s ability to make proper judgement from what is taking place in and around them and they end up being largely influenced by the “educated” who in many cases chooses to manipulate the information ( ie misinterpret) being feed to these people . Their decisions are now based on the manipulated or corrupted information being peddled by the “educated” whose desires is to keep them right where they are for their own selfish reasons.

The decision on who should be given the right to lead 2.7m people can no longer be left to the misguided and uneducated folks, who are not capable of making proper decisions based on factual data and so I would make those people ineligible to vote until they have the capability to read and write at a basic level, which would allow them to function at a much higher level.

I know some smart alex will say ” well how is that that you would not want the decision of who is elected to lead us being left in the hands of those least capable of making sound decision based on their limited ability to read and write”. It therefore means you Mr Jay, would want to disenfranchise these people and now leave that decision to the few  educated social elites in this country, that is madness”.

This would not be a correct statement however, given from our history that the rich in this country hardly vote and as such has very little impact on the outcome of an election. One however could very well argue that by disenfranchising the majority, we would now give an allow the rich to have a greater influence in future elections, given they gave the ability to vote even if they chose so not to do.

So where is Jay going with this rather seemingly crazy idea because I know most would have missed where I am headed.

The right to vote is very important to those folks in the lower economic stratum of this country and our politicians depends on these people to keep them in power. The problem with all of this is these people are most often never given the opportunity to leave their depressed communities. There Great, great grand mother was uneducated  poor, their great grand mother uneducated and poor, their grand mother was uneducated poor, their mother uneducated and poor and by virtue of all the above their are more than likely destined to become poor also.

For these folks their so called “freedom” to decide to leads this country to prosperity is nothing more than a figment of their own imagination.

If the politicians are no longer assured of this large voting population, they would now be forced to focus on what it will take to move Jamaica forward economically given their tenure would be based on performance as measured by the people who can look at the information and make sense of it and those who will dismiss nonsense as just that.

In addition I believe it will force those who have been disenfranchise to agitate for education for themselves and their kids so they too can be able to read and write, have a fighting chances to extricate themselves from poverty and can once again decide who leads them, but this time with their eyes wide open, having now been exposed.

Seems far fetched right and nigh impossible, but from where I sit we need a game changer if we are to make the leap we need to move forward.

Human rights and bleeding hearts would complain, but I assure you, that if this is done, I can guarantee that 20 years from now, Jamaican will be the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean.

Crime would be reduced to first world levels, our literacy rate would be in the region of 99%, our economy would grow by upwards of 5% per annum, productivity levels would sky rocket and  the quality of our elected representatives would be 10 times better than it is today.

Try to wrap your minds around this in an objective manner.

Now comment on the 6 comments I made above at the beginning of this column about what reactions I would have received just from the title of the column.

A dat me seh !

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