Jamaica Information Service – The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is taking steps to fully fund the education of students up to 18 years old.
Portfolio Minister, Senator Ruel Reid, says, once finalised, this will be implemented over a three-year period.
“So I am now trying to get us to this bold statement of zero to 18 public free-education strategy that gets all our students up to the minimum of having an associate degree that will be paid for by the State. That is the policy position that I am articulating,” he explained.
He was speaking at the annual conference of the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ) at Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St. James on Wednesday (January 9).
“When I go to Cabinet on Monday (January 14), I will say to the Prime Minister, this is going to be our contribution. This is how were are going to revolutionise Jamaica to make sure that we have every one of our young people trained and certified at least to the minimum of an associate degree, facilitated through the collaboration of the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica,” Senator Reid added.
The education minister informed that he will be meeting with representatives from the CCCJ to outline the feasibility of the public free-education strategy.
“I have said to Permanent Secretary (Dean-Roy Bernard), we are going to work with you (the CCCJ) to operationalise that; we are not going to put it on you this year. We are going to show you, mathematically, how it can be done on a phased basis over the next three years, because we have to write to the Ministry of Finance and give them a three-year notice to fully implement it,” he pointed out.
Senator Reid further noted that the Government is seeking to provide a better avenue for students whose parents are unable to fund their education, while pointing out the need to stem the issue of persons being employed without the required qualification and training.
He added that the education sector must be revolutionised to prepare students for a modernised job market.
“If we do not empower them (students) to align with the fourth industrial revolution, then they are going to have their own revolution. Every one of these young people, when they leave school and have no answer and have nowhere to go, becomes a liability to the State. Therefore, it makes sense for the State to… make sure that every one of these people is rescued,” Senator Reid emphasised.
The CCCJ conference, which ends on Friday, January 11, is being held under the theme ‘CCCJ: Forging Pathways for Future Empowerment’.
Several students and staff from community colleges across the island were presented with scholarships and awards at the opening ceremony of the conference.