The start of the academic year is typically greeted with an air of expectancy and promise. However, this positive outlook is usually short lived as soon as the grim reality sets in bringing to the fore unforeseen, as well as recurring problems to all the stakeholders involved in the business of education.Each year, thousands of Jamaican students either graduate from, drop out of school or are expelled from various educational institutions. Sadly, many of those students leave school without any form of certification rendering them helpless and almost hopeless in a globalized and competitive world. In this regard we have failed our students.
Recently, I came across some interesting and informative information regarding the work of The Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL). The JFLL has started a High School Diploma Equivalence Programme as of September 2014. The High School Diploma Equivalence (HSDE) programme is geared towards students 17 years and older and provides them with training at various levels. The High School Diploma Equivalence Programme has three (3) levels:
HSDE Basic-At this level the learner is taught lessons in basic literacy and numeracy Life Skills and Information Technology.
HSDE Intermediate: At this level you focus on high school studies (grades 7-9). Subjects taught at this level are: Mathematics, English Language, Social Studies, Science & Technology and Information Technology.
Once students successfully complete the intermediate level, you will acquire the qualifications that will enable you to sit and pass the HEART entry level test to become a certified skill worker.
This initiative by the JFLL is commendable. However, it makes very little sense to have such an important programme in the society yet the target audiences are unaware of its existence. I became aware of this programme by chance. This is most unacceptable. The Jamaica Foundation For Lifelong Learning obviously needs to do a much better job in informing the Jamaican public about this programme.
Additionally, due to the popular practice of screening by our schools many of our students are written off as not being able to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations. This practice also contributes greatly to many of our students leaving school without any form of certification. Too many of our students fall by the wayside after high school especially our young men. As a society we can and should do more to rescue and provide skills training for those who desire such skills. In fact we need a new trust and vision to incorporate skills based curriculum in all schools at the secondary level.
The JFLL should embark on a massive public education programme targeting all secondary schools. There can be no level of sustainable development if the society continues to ignore the practical needs of a significant percentage of the youth population.