Saturday, 26 October 2013

Declining Birth Rate A Cause For Concern



Over the years there has been documented proof linking the relationship between economic recession and a declining birthrate. As the Jamaican economy continues to contract we have been witnessing a decrease in birthrate. In 2011 Jamaica had a birthrate of 19.2 births per 1,000, however, a year later in 2012 the birthrate declined to 18.89 births per 1,000. It is very obvious that the society’s recovery and stability hinges not solely on the IMF deal that was signed recently by the government and this international lending agency but more so on a healthy and increasing birthrate.

Jamaica is not alone in terms of having a declining birthrate.  In fact the figures are a little better in Jamaica since on average the birthrate is 2.3 children per woman compared to fewer than 2 children per woman in most of Western Europe. In many parts of the world especially in Western Europe, declining birthrates have become a cause for concern. In countries such as Spain and Italy the birthrate has fallen to 1.2 children per woman. Even in Germany the economic work horse of Europe the birthrate has fallen to 1.3 children per woman, while in Greece which is also experiencing a severe economic recession the birthrate is 1.4 children per woman. It is rather elementary to see the co-relationship between both variables. In harsh economic times characterized by wage freeze and high unemployment it is very likely that more and more people will choose not to have children until their economic condition improves. However, in choosing this logical route the country will suffer in the long term. As the Jamaican population ages and more people become pensioners what will happen? We are going to have a decrease work force which will be unable to sustain the economic viability of the country since fewer taxes will be collected and therefore the growing pension population and the wider society will suffer.

When the International Monetary Fund IMF signs deals with governments they are not too concerned about issues of this nature. The paramount concern of such lending agencies is on the fiscal side of things rarely if at all the human aspects come into consideration. The IMF main concern is that the loan is repaid regardless of the suffering and sacrifice the people of those countries endure.

The current uncertainly surrounding the jobs of many public sector workers is not helping in this regard. The almost daily slippage of the Jamaican currency against the United States dollars also does very little to comfort the growing number of Jamaican who have been called upon once again to sacrifice.

It is very clear as more and more countries across the globe grapple with recession we are likely to see more and more people delaying having children. In 2012 the average global birthrate was 19.15 births per 1,000 compared to 20.09 births per 1,000 in 2007 this itself speaks of the negative impact of economic recession and birthrate.

In light of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG)  to reduce child mortality we must take into consideration the following.

Despite population growth, the number of deaths in children under five worldwide declined from 12.4 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011, which translates into about 14,000 fewer children dying each day. Since 2000, measles vaccines have averted over 10 million deaths.

 

 

Despite determined global progress in reducing child deaths, an increasing proportion of child deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa where one in nine children die before the age of five and in Southern Asia where one in 16 die before age five. As the rate of under-five deaths overall declines, the proportion that occurs during the first month after birth is increasing.

Children born into poverty are almost twice as likely to die before the age of five as those from wealthier families. Children of educated mothers—even mothers with only primary schooling—are more likely to survive than children of mothers with no education.

For governments everywhere it cannot be that your only concern is to balance the books to appease your creditors. As government you must address the social concerns of your people in order to have a just and equitable society for all to live and work.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.

waykam@yahoo.com

Friday, 25 October 2013

Governance and Democracy: A Jamaican Perspective



National Heroes Day is here! Those of us with jobs will return to work after the pomp and pageantry associated with yet a further vestige of colonialism.  As is customary on National Heroes Day the Governor General presents national awards and honours at Kings House to those Jamaicans who have contributed to nation building in one way or the other. A nation pauses to remember and pay tribute especially to our seven National Heroes who struggled and fought against the odds for us to have a voice and a role in determining our future. Our national heroes sacrificed a lot, without a doubt some paid with their lives for us to have a better standard of living than what they had. However, the older I get the more I am certain that our political leaders have failed us by still adhering to a model of democracy and governance which have excluded the will of the majority of the Jamaican people from the general decision making process of government. Sadly, our democratic process is one in which once an election is over with and a political party is confirmed as the winner by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) there ends the consultative process with the ordinary man in the street until the next election. Without legislation to address campaign finances we clearly have seen where special interest groups with the financial backing can and have swayed the electorates many of whom are not significantly better off than their grandparents were during the period of discussions surrounding nationhood and independence.

 This can’t be what democracy is all about?  In fact I don’t think our founding fathers and mothers fought the British in the various Maroon Wars had this in mind for us especially since we are still enslaved and shackled under a new system of slavery in the guise of democracy.  The skin colour of our colonial masters now resemble that of ours and because of this very  fact many of us are not readily aware of what is happening or going to happen to us.

Was this what our forefathers had this in mind when they negotiated for our political independence?  In gaining political independence in August of 1962 the society inherited many of the trappings of the colonial mother Britain, one of which was the system of governance. The Westminster system of governance has failed the majority of the Jamaican people. What is the Westminster system about? The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Unlike most other democratic systems in Europe and the United States of America which are based on the principle of power separation, the Westminster system of government is characterized by the way in which powers are merged. The historic counterbalancing structure between the Crown, the House of Lords and the Houses of Parliament gradually receded with the establishment of the constitutional democracy.

The rule of parliament developed into rule of the House of Commons and, with the arrival political-party-based democracy, was transformed again into government rule over the House of Commons based on an overall majority. The term parliamentary sovereignty, therefore, has become synonymous for sovereignty of a centralized British government.

As a critic of the Westminster model I am of the view that it lacks the necessary counter balances to check the executive branch of government. This lack of check and balances in the Westminster system have given successive governments in Jamaica the green light to made decisions that are not in the best interest of the country. Under the Westminster system once a government is in power their primary concern is how to win the next election and remain in power indefinitely.  We are all too familiar with this in Jamaica. There is hardly any room for a difference of opinions from that of the collective voice of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister. This can’t be good for any country more so a developing country.

While supporters of the Westminster model emphasize its efficiency and its ability to make decisions quickly without being blocked by other institutional powers, and the fact that a sitting government is not readily forced into compromise, which provides voters with clear alternatives, and its internal systems of correction which are capable of forcing the resignation of the prime minister and early elections. We clearly have reached the point now that after more than a half century of political independence we need to widen the scope for a broader representation from all sections of the Jamaican landscape to partake in the process of governance. In order to do this we need to rid ourselves of the Westminster system and find a more consensus based system of government.

Our political leaders today are certainly not made of the same dynamism and enthusiasm as our forefathers or else they would by now move to replace this non progressive system of governance with a more inclusive, fair and just system. Why should we continue to have a system whereby members in the Upper House of Parliament or Senate do not face an electorate yet they are a part of the law making process in the country? Why do you still need a Senate especially in a time of austerity measure, we could easily abolish the Senate?

 One such system is to abolish the Queen as Head of State and become a Republic and institute the Proportional Representation (PR) system of government.

Proportional representation or PR is a type of electoral system which attempts to match the proportion of seats won by a political party with the proportion of the total vote for that party. Just a system would clearly manifest the wishes of the Jamaican electorate more so than the First Past the Post System which we currently use. Another advantage of the PR system is the revolutionary move it would have in breaking the cultural exclusion of third parties in the political process and thus allowing for greater representation in the House of Parliament.

In moving towards the Proportional Representation system of government not only would be allowing more access in the political process for all Jamaicans we would also change the divisive and destructive political culture of the state. We would also eradicate a significant percentage of corruption associated with politics. Additionally we would build team work and cooperation and just image the message this would send to the wider society.

A most fitting tribute to our National Heroes would be to ensure that most if not Jamaicans have a voice in the political process and this can only be achieved by putting in place the necessary legislation to abolish all remnants of colonialism thus engendering and empowering the proud legacy our forefathers left for us.  Somehow I don’t think we will get to that system in which our political leaders realize they are servants of the people and not the other way around. I do hope I am proven wrong! From past history  it appears that our politicians are not in the business of loosen their grips around our throats; it would seem they are more for consolidating power in the hands of the few than trying to improve the lives of the many. 

 

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.

waykam@yahoo.com

 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Nutrition and Education




Across the globe millions of school age children go to school daily without breakfast.

Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important in establishing a good foundation that has implications for a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity. Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences.

In Jamaica, it is estimated that more than thirty (30) per cent or at least three out of every ten children go to school daily without breakfast.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 16.7 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.

Child hunger is fasting increasing globally and in the Jamaican society as the world grapples with the issues of food security and the ever increasing prices of staples such as corn.   Despite our best efforts as a society by having a local school feeding programme, as well as, other intervention programmes, namely the Programme for Advancement through Heath and Education (PATH) we continue to see more and more families falling into poverty. Many families are barely coping and indeed struggling to adequately meet the basic needs of their families. In most instances the children are the first to experience the sacrifices that we are being called upon to maker.  In addition to children going to school without breakfast, a significant number of our children have “bad” breakfast in the mornings. Bad is defined as having an extremely high concentration of fatty and sugary foods. Researchers have made the connection regarding the correlation between having no or having bad breakfast and the impaired health and undesirable learning outcomes of our children.  By missing breakfast for whatever the reason we lose at least a quarter of the nutrients and energy we need for the day.  Even as adults if we should miss breakfast we do not function as well as when we have this most important meal of the day. Performance in the classroom will suffer and is being severely impacted as a result of the students skipping breakfast or having a “bad” breakfast.

Research suggest that students who miss breakfast will get sick more often and are more likely to suffer ear infections. Additionally, such students will have their cognitive capacity impaired, due to the fact that their brains do not have sufficient fuel or brain power for attention, concentration and learning. Having no breakfast or making bad choices for breakfast also impacts the mental health of our students. Such students tend to be more withdrawn and inattentive. Child hunger also affects manifest itself in students those students also have a higher tendency to exhibit more disruptive behaviours as well disciplinary disorders.

We need to put measures in place to expand the school feeding programme to meet the ever increasing food needs of our children. We need to add more foods from all the food groups and move away from a carbohydrate dependent diet which is what is currently in place.

If we do not give this issue the urgent and undivided attention it deserves we will continue to rob our children of their full potential as well as the country of the bright future that is ahead. 

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development studies as they affect culture and/or gender issues.

waykam@yahoo.com

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Raise the bar for Student Athletes

For many youngsters the training during the summer holidays was well worth the sacrifice since they now have the chance to show off their skills on the field of play. However, far too many of our youngsters continue to struggle with participation in sports and their academic commitment. Gone are those days where colleges and universities would offer scholarship to athletes solely on the basis of their athletic prowess. Colleges and universities are now demanding that athletes have at least a minimum educational standard on which to build a fountain.  Yet despite this reality many of our athletes continue to struggle to attain and maintain a 45 per cent average as outlined by the Inter Secondary Schools Association (ISSA). This sub-standard mark is overly generous by ISSA and the time has come for ISSA to re-visit this 45 per cent mark and set the bar much higher in keeping with the realities of this competitive world in which we live.

 We should ask ourselves what measures are in place to offer student athletes additional support that a significant number of them require to ensure that they excel academically.  Jamaica has had and continues to have a most distinguished and most enviable record in track and field over the decades. In the past we some of our internationally acclaimed athletes have had difficulty express themselves to the world as they struggle to find the words to say exactly what they wish.  We have come a far way since those ‘dark’ days and certainly we must do all within our powers to ensure we never go there again.

The annual Boys and Girl Athletic  track meet has played a critical role in the early development for many of our athletes who have gone on to win Olympic medals and other accolades. As a country we have benefitted tremendously, in fact Jamaica is now referred to as the sprint capital/factory of the world. However, despite all our successes on the track, it’s not about winning at all cost as some school administrators seem to believe. Too often our schools use these athletes in the hunt for fame and glory without ensuring that the academic side of these students are addressed. Too many of our high school age athletes are functional illiterates or illiterates and in most instances there are no programmes in place to improve the literacy and numeracy levels of these students. Most times these student athletes are from poor backgrounds. In many instances the parents of these athletes are not in a position to monitor or help much with the overall development of their child. The parents are themselves caught up in the euphoric rise in popularity of their child that they fail to see their child’s short coming and limitation regarding their academic development. In some instances these student athletes are treated as super stars by their respective schools. Many of them over time have developed negative attitudes towards the education system in general. In fact many students’ athletes are given preferential treatment to attend sixth form on the basis that they “play” a sport for the school.

Structured programmes with the necessary monitoring mechanisms must be put in place to adequate address the issue of poor academic performance among some of our student athletes a problem that has plagued sports over the years.

The time has come for a broader representation on the board of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA).  In order to have transparency and accountability we need to scrutinize principals more closely to ensure everything is done above board.

 In the past we have heard of grades being ‘manufactured’ to ensure the participation of failing athletes, we do an injustice to our students and the society in general if it is that we facilitate cheating and corruption in order for fame and glory.  Sadly, we continue to exploit and sacrifice our children at every given opportunity and across all levels of the society for self aggrandisement.

Masculinity in Sports

Ever since the beginning of time sports has always been associated with masculinity, indeed a hegemonic form of masculinity. Of course we can only define masculinity in relation to other forms of subordinated masculinities and femininity. Hegemonic masculinity is the term used to explain the criteria for being the ‘ideal’ man in a particular culture.  In the Jamaican culture as in most western societies there is a popular belief that ‘real, men play sports. The term hegemonic masculinity serves as a model for all men and show how they “should” be. In the Jamaican context if a male does not play a sport or show interest in any sport he is viewed as a ‘sissy’ or worse his sexual orientation is questioned. As a results many parents, coaches and the wider society places undue pressure on males especially those who do not gravitate towards sports to get involved in some sports this is done oftentimes to the detriment of their educational development.

Sports provide males with an outlet to express their masculine traits. Involvement in sports also provides males with the necessary skills to become productive members of the society. Skills such as good citizenship, cooperation, the value of hard work are all desirable and needed in the society. On the other hand it can be argued that modern sports are partially to be blamed for a masculinity that includes undesirable behaviours and ideals.  For example, males should show little or no reaction to physical pain; this double standard is reinforced very early in the lives of our children. If our son gets injured on the playfield we tell him to stop crying and ‘man up’ while our daughters are comforted and reassured that all will be well.  Men should be physically big and those boys/men who do not fit this hegemonic mould of masculinity are likely to be ostracized.  Small men/boys are likely to be judged as inferior and are likely to be labelled with negative and derogatory terms in our patriarchal society.

Sports help us generally to stay fit and healthy regardless of our sex. The involvement of sports aids in social skills such as the interaction between peoples and cultures, as well as building team work and fostering a spirit of camaraderie. Mentally, sport lowers the risk of anxiety and depression. In spite of all that was said we should not take advantage of our school aged athletes and throw them to the wind after they would have passed the age to compete.

 The Ministry of Education has remained too silent on the issue of sport involvement and education. Indeed the Education Ministry has a great role to play by crafting the policy framework necessary which will help guide our schools, as well as, to assist in the holistic development of our athletes.  Our children are the future of the society and we must ensure that we take all possible measures to ensure a bright future for all our students regardless of their socio-economic background.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.

waykam@yahoo.com

Masculinity and Schooling

As our political leaders scramble to find solutions to the country’s economic woes we must as a society urge our leaders in education to find ways and means of rescuing our boys who for the most part are sliding into a state of underachievement and underperformance at all levels of the education system. From as early as primary school we see our girls outperforming our boys in all the national examinations, namely the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Tests, as well as, the exit examination, the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). The crisis affecting our boys is not unique to Jamaica. Other islands of the Caribbean are also experiencing similar issues. Developed societies such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia are also grappling with the plight of boys, underachievement and how to address the problem. Male underachievement is more a socio-political issue than an educational one.  Social and cultural factors have influence and continue to do so the various ways in which masculinity is defined not only in the Jamaican society but societies all over. Masculinity and what it means to be a man does impact on the education of our boys. Many boys view the school experience as feminine. Our boys’ life choices are severely circumscribed by the dominant notions of masculinity competing with “multiple masculinities” in the society. For many boys especially in a homophobic and transphobic Jamaican society they are forced to remove themselves from any association with the feminine or curriculum areas related to same. One glaring example of boys removing themselves from perceived feminine curriculum is the continuous poor performance of our boys in English Language in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination.
Boys who speak or attempt to speak Standard English are called derogatory names and ridiculed almost daily by their peers. The dominant notion of masculinity in the wider Jamaican society is one in which to speak Standard English is tantamount of being isolated by one’s peers and the accompanying question marks which undoubtedly will follow surrounding one’s sexual orientation. Not be outdone our schools which mirror the wider society and space in which we occupy also suffer from this. Not surprisingly a significant number of our boys do not readily code switch between the languages, instead they prefer to use and remain with the language of what defines a man to be a man. The school experience for many boys is already traumatic and therefore who can that boy for just fitting in and face the hostile treatment and name calling from his friends. Interestingly, even boys from a background of privilege and from homes where Standard English is spoken are now struggling with the English Language as we continue to see the intersection of class and gender and how this impacts the school experience for our boys. Our boys learn from quite early that having an education is not vital to be successful in life. In fact if we assess success in terms of material possessions in the Jamaican context we will see that an overwhelmingly majority of those men who are successful are those who did not excel at scholastic pursuits.  Many of these “successful” men in our society could be grouped in the greater in the categories of (high) school drop-outs and those who have run a foul with the law. Related to the problem of boys underachievement is the issue of our failing schools. They are those among us who prefer not to use the term failing; however, these schools are just that because they are unable to produce pupils with high levels of literacy and numeracy which is a must if we are going to find creative means out overcoming our economic issues. The problem of failing schools is inextricably linked to poor leadership and management of those schools. Throughout the Caribbean the issue of male underachievement is pervasive. In the Caribbean island of Barbados a similar problem of boy’s underachievement exists. In the Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination (BSSEE) of 2011 of the 26 students who attained 100 per cent, females outnumbered males. Sixteen (16) females scored 100 per cent in this examination compared to ten (10) males. This examination is used to place pupils in high schools in Barbados. In the previous year 2010, females also outperformed males in regard to those students scoring 100 per cent. According to data from the Barbadian Ministry of Education the overall national mean in Mathematics was 58.72 as compared to 60.92 in 2011 and 51.4 in 2010, indicating a 2.19 per cent decrease in 2012 than in 2011. The performance for both males and females decreased slightly in 2012 over last year. For the females, it was 62.12 per cent in 2012 as compared to 65.18 in 2011, a decrease of 3.06 while for males in 2012, the overall performance 55.53 as compared to 56.83 in 2011, and a marginal decline of 1.30 percentage points. What is interesting here is that even in the area of Mathematics where boys traditionally do well, girls are outperforming them. Barbados has adapted a sort of ‘affirmative’ action at the primary level to stem boys underachievement at that level. According to an official in the Barbados Ministry of Education poorly performing boys in the Common Entrance Examination are given the opportunity to attend what is termed the ''most favoured or older secondary schools in Barbados''.
Students who score highest in the examination are often placed in these older and more favoured secondary schools. However, if the high school is offering 120 places, for example, the Education Ministry invariably sends 60 boys and 60 girls, although the girls' scores are much higher than the boys'. The interference of politics in the education system is the genesis of most of the ills affecting the school system. We interfere in terms of how school principals are appointment and once that is done and known or perceive to be so added challenges are adding to the already difficult task or managing a school. Too many of our principals are politically appointees. Consequently, the best and most suitable candidate is always denied the job if he/she does not have the political backing. Then again this is just the problem in the wider Jamaican society and therefore how could we expect better in this sphere. Having said that we can all conclude that enough research has been done in the arena of boys, underachievement and underperformance and as such no more is required in order to address the problem. The time is now at hand to find solutions and implement policies and programmes to save our boys who will become irresponsible men if we do not rescue them. Let us examine some of the solutions to the problem. One way of attempting to address the plight of our boys who are now “disadvantaged” is by “recuperative masculinity politics which calls for a reasserting of masculine privileges in light of the fact that the specific needs of boys are subsumed under the priority given to girls and minorities. We need to thrive for gender justice in our education system so boys can benefit equally from the teaching/learning experience.
There is also the need to urgently recast our current gender policy one way of doing so is to incorporate more men in the discourse to shape our national gender policy. It’s ludicrous to think that women only or a gender board dominated by women can advocate the needs of our boys and men. We also need to examine the possibility of creating so-called 'boy-friendly' curricula, assessment and pedagogical practices. We now know that boys learn differently than girls and therefore we should use this knowledge to refashion teaching methodologies that speak to both sexes in the classroom.  Our teachers colleges and universities should be challenged and given incentives to create or re-design new methods of teaching with a specific focus on boys. We need to create safe spaces for boys at our schools and engage them in meaningful discussions about notions of masculinity and get from them ideas and suggestions which could be implemented to address their issues. The society also needs to revisit how we ascribe and contribute ‘successes to those endeavours which education is not necessarily a factor. The (undervalued) social currency which we now use to judge success needs to be revalued.  We need to “make over” the education system with a macho view and “de-feminize” the education system. We need to view the issue of male underperformance and underachievement with a sense of urgency and dispatch, if not; we are going to continue to witness the spread of a deviant strand of hyper masculinity sweeping across the education system. This reconstruction of masculinity is already manifesting itself in all our schools. Our boys are wearing their school pants well below their waist and at times exposing their undergarments. Our boys have altered their uniforms both the pants and shirts so much that we can almost see all the contours of their body. Those boys who wear the correct uniform are teased and referred to as “old”. For many of our misguided boys to be young is to wear tight fitted khaki pants/uniform. Our boys have become more violent in recent years even to the point of physically abusing female teachers.  Male teachers over the years have endured physical attacks from our boys; however, this new attack on the female teachers by our boys should be viewed as wake up call for school administrators and policy makers about the urgent need to rescue our boys. Boys are bleaching their skin as much as the girls now in fact in some schools the majority of the “bleachers” are boys.  I will not even mention the fact that body painting or tattoo has all but taken over the skin of many of our students. I ask myself where the parents are; obviously the issue of parenting is for another time. It is no secret that our boys are lacking in positive role models and therefore we need to employ more male teachers. However, we should not just employ more male teachers in a vacuum we need to ensure that all our teachers are people of impeccable character. We need to re-masculinise the education system and bring to the classroom a wide range of constructive behaviours and masculinities which would challenge the hegemonic notions of masculinity and facilitate our boys from all social classes and backgrounds to excel in their given field of choice.
The Caribbean is at a crossroads and in order to move forward we need to invest more in our human capital. In fact Caribbean societies will not have sustainable development until we fix the problem of male underachievement and under performance by making education more ‘attractive’ to our males.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Monday, 21 October 2013

Cheating and Education

The decision by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) to revoke the grades of the entire sixth form cohort at Jamaica College who sat the 2013 Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Physics Examination (CAPE) is both embarrassing and disturbing and might have caused irreparable damage to Jamaica’s education system. This most unfortunate episode speaks to the glaring lapses within the education system and moral crisis we face as a society. As a result there is now an urgent need for quality assurance measures to be instituted across all levels of the education system from the primary to the tertiary level in order to safeguard Jamaica’s reputation regarding educational outcome. At the same time the Caribbean Examination Council’s judgment should be commended and indeed should be viewed as an opportunity for all stakeholders within the education system to develop standards and means to safeguard the integrity of our examination especially as we move forward in an era transparency and accountability. Quality assurance is the systematic review of educational programmes to ensure that acceptable standards of education, scholarship and infrastructure are being maintained. However, a significant part of our problem is the fact that we do not have a sufficient history of quality assurance practices in this country especially as it compares to other societies and cultures. However, all is not lost but we need to address the issue most urgently and work at creating and fostering a culture of quality assurance practices along with educating our students about the perils of plagiarism. With this development our students now have seen firsthand the dangers of cheating. Cheating has a domino effect and this painful lesson is a lesson for all of us in the society. This episode should point out to all stake holders how cheating negatively impacts not only the individual but also an institution and even an entire country. 
Jamaica now has the opportunity to put in place measures to ensure we do not have a repeat of this embarrassing situation, however, me must first address the tendency in the society to downplay the importance of intellectual property rights as a serious issue. For some reason we do not valuable creative works, such as, poetry, music and, choreography dance pieces as meaningful and productive work. This adds to the difficulty we now face for us to see plagiarism as a way of cheating. We need to work harder at changing that culture and the change should begin now. Maybe this is an ideal opportunity for the Ministry of Education to incorporate issues of Plagiarism into the Social Studies curriculum for grades 7 to 9 and even to the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level. We must admit and sadly so that too many individuals of questionable backgrounds are in the teaching profession from the level of principal to the classroom teacher. As a result of this fact we should not be alarmed if more instances of plagiarism as is the case of Jamaica College and other forms of cheating and irregularities are not found throughout our institutions of learning.We should thank the Caribbean Examination Council’s swift and decisive move as it relates to bringing an end this awkward situation which has wider implications than just the school involved but also in terms of how our Caribbean neighbours’ view us especially in a globalized text and the movement of Caribbean nationals especially Jamaicans throughout CARICOM. By virtue of being a principal one automatically assumes the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). To claim lack of knowledge regarding what is happening in one’s school is totally unacceptable of one holding such an office. Additionally this lack of foresight speaks volume to one’s management skills and leadership style as well. We need to ask ourselves a number of questions in light of this revelation.
What if the former Physics teacher at Jamaica College did not tip off the Caribbean Examination Council regarding the issue of plagiarism? Can we be sure this grave and unethical offence was happening for the first time? What is the role of the Ministry of Education regarding issues of quality assurance for our regional and national examinations? What disciplinary measures will be taken against the Physics teacher who is at the centre of the controversy? What about the Head of the Department and Vice Principal in charge of academic affairs.  Were these individuals doing their jobs in terms of monitoring and evaluating the staff and the department in question? What about the sixth formers involved especially those who were in upper sixth form and would have been depending on the Physics grades to enter tertiary level educational institutions? Will be the Caribbean Examination Council be reviewing past examinations in light of this most unfortunate development Should the Ministry of Education now explore the possibilities of storing regional and national examination papers at centralized locations across the country rather than at the respective schools? Surely we must take every step imaginable to safeguard the integrity and quality of our examinations. Let us not fool ourselves when we operate in an unethical manner there are always serious implications for those directly and indirectly impacted by our selfish and self serving actions. This sculled episode should be used as a learning tool and a wake up for all schools to put their house in order and abide by guide lines and rules regarding School Based Assessment (SBA) and the sitting of examinations. I am reminded that a few years ago the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) went through an embarrassing affair after it was discovered that students at a particular school had seen the examination before the schedule date of the examination.  
There is a saying that says, “tek sleep and mark death “It has always been alleged that some teachers are in the habit of doing their students Schools Based Assessment (SBA, S) whether these allegations will ever be proven or not is beside the point. This practice is tantamount to cheating and most unethical. I would humbly suggest even implore that any such teacher caught up in this dilemma they should discontinue this unprofessional practice.  As an educator your job is to guide your students not to find means to facilitate them in cheating. When all the dust is settled no one wants to be known as a cheat. Perception is sometimes more than reality. As a potential learning  experience all the stakeholders involved, the schools, parents, teachers, students, school boards, the Ministry of Education should come together so as to prevent a repeat of this most distressing saga in the annals of Jamaica’s education system.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo