Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Establish Teacher Exchange Programme With Other Nations

Over the years much praise has been bestowed upon Jamaica’s education system and its standing in the global community. This fact has been highlighted by the numerous educational institutions which have recruited Jamaican teachers.
Many countries have instituted an exchange programme whereby teachers are given the opportunity to travel and gain immeasurable experience over a specific time period. The time has come for us as a society to at least examine the possibility and probability for the education ministry to engage and consult with various agencies such as embassies, and consulates based in Jamaica.
We need to come to the realization that such an exchange programme can bring much needed benefits to Jamaica in the areas of technology transfer, best teaching practices and cultural exchange. The Jamaican student deserves the very best, especially in this digital and highly competitive community, therefore we must explore and be mindful of every possibility that afforded to us to enhance the teaching and learning process.

Wayne Campbell

Monday, 24 August 2015

Include Gender Balance in Education Planning

The gender factor is oftentimes overlooked by many organizations involved in research and development in the society. In fact gender and development specialists are usually not taken seriously in many developing societies. This is a retrograde and myopic attitude which requires a new approach regarding how we plan for our people and the future.
With the start of the new school only two weeks away the Ministry of Education has a grand opportunity to lead in this regard. The time has come for us to do more gender based research using specialists in the field. This is especially important since educational institutions operate on a gendered system, and as such expectations are different for both sexes. The 2015 ranking of secondary schools in Jamaica clearly highlights the troubling reality of the inequalities in the education system along gendered lines. Of the top ten best performing schools according the percentage of passes in the core subject areas of Mathematics and English Language in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examination seven schools are single sex all girls schools.
Research in Gender Studies reveals that we are not where we ought to be in terms of gender fairness. Gender fairness applies to having a balance and comprehensive portrayal of both men and men to any textbook. In many instances girls are not portrayed as scientists and other high skilled occupations. The society loses out on a potential pool of talent and skills because of gender-related stereotypes which places restrictions on career choices for girls. The Ministry of Education needs to take the lead in this regard, by employing education officers with the relevant experience and qualification to oversee the change that is necessary to ensure that those books approved by the ministry gives a balanced representation of both sexes.  We currently have Education Officers in charge of different subject areas; we now need to have gender based education officers who will be able to assist the ministry with developing policies, plans and programmes to address male under-achievement and under-representation, as well as to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of promoting gender equality and empowering girls/women. Girls' education is critically linked to self-determination, improved health, social and economic status, as well as positive health outcomes for the mother and the child. Yet, girls still account for 55% of the out-of-school population.  We will never have sustainable development if we continue to exclude gender or minimize the impact of gender in planning and development.

Gender Roles

Wayne Campbell

Saturday, 15 August 2015

We Require More Information On Our Doctors

In some jurisdictions information regarding a doctor’s training and experience is readily available. While it is true that the Medical Council of Jamaica has a registry of doctors who are licensed to practice locally, there is no database which tells the public of specializations of doctors beyond their basic training. Doctors in Jamaica are licensed on their basic qualifications to practice medicine. However, the fact is a significant number of doctors pursue post graduate studies and this should be reflected by the Medical Council of Jamaica’s registry. The doctors’ registry should also include the success rate percentage of specialist doctors. The Medical Council of Jamaica should look into this urgently with the possibility of moving towards this best practice. This would undoubtedly provide more detailed and useful information for Jamaicans to make a more informed choice regarding their specialized medical care practitioner.

Wayne Campbell

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Teach Ethics In Fight Against Corruption

Corruption is arguably the biggest threat to any country’s long term survival and development.
The current scandal plaguing Petrobras, Brazil,s state oil company should be a lesson for all of us.
Since the scandal broke more than 100 politicians, business executives and public figures have been indicted in the on-going corruption case at Petrobras. The corruption took place in the guise of a kickback scheme involving Rolex watches, yachts, helicopters and prostitutes, money. The state oil company was overcharged by corrupt officials under a fake competition plan. It is alleged that Brazil’s ruling party pocketed over $200million which was then used to finance political campaigns.
The time has come for Jamaica to develop a national school initiative to teach Ethics and anti-corruption principles in our schools. We must make every effort to target our young people before they are overtaken by this culture of corruption. Ethics should be introduced as a separate subject in the curriculum. This subject should be mandatory for all students at the secondary level of the education system.
We need to work effortlessly to reverse our culture of bribery, falsification and get rich quick mentality to save Jamaica.

Wayne Campbell

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Schools Demand Visible Principals

With the start of each academic year we must be reminded that leadership can make or break any school.  Inspired leadership is at the genesis of the positive transformation of the Denbigh Town High, which was only upgraded to a high school a few years ago and has since become a school of choice in Clarendon. Sadly, this best practice is not being replicated throughout the education system; hence we are left with only pockets of excellence. With the start of any academic year there is always much expectation. Conversely, we are still being haunted by the 2014 National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report which stated that sixty (60%) per cent of Jamaica’s primary and secondary schools are failing in their education delivery to the nation’s children. This is unacceptable, and we must all work together to fix the ailing education system.
To a great extent our non-performing schools rest with the poor and weak leadership exhibit by a significant number of principals. There are many challenges for those in positions of principalship, but there are also many opportunities. Disturbingly, in many of our schools there is a poisonous relationship between principals and the academic and support staffs which inevitably affect the teaching and learning process. According to Michael Hooker, principal of Wentworth Falls Public School, “if principals are to move from managing into education leadership, then respectful, positive working relationships are a must”. We should not underestimate the importance of principals who are highly and regularly visible within their school. A principal builds trust, credibility and earns the respect of his/her staff by being visible.   
A principal must be viewed as being approachable and fair-minded by all stakeholders. Research shows that students value seeing their principals in different situations around the school. Our students need to see their principals walking the school grounds daily. Our students need to feel the principals’ presence. Our principals must walk the corridors of the school, as well as the hide out spots. Our principals must set the tone for our schools. Principals must be guided by the principle that schools are there to prepare students for their future especially as we enter our 54th year of political independence. It’s a no brainer! Non –performing schools usually have a weak top and middle management in place.
Wayne Campbell

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Proverbs chapter 19 verse 21

Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Reconnect to Emancipation History

Emancipation Day 2015 is now beyond us. However, by now we would have realized that there is a disconnect between the historical significance of the day and most Jamaicans. Interestingly, this is not the case in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago where Emancipation Day is also observed. This lack of attachment to Emancipation Day is not surprising since the teaching of History; specifically, West Indian History is optional in many of our secondary schools. The teaching of History should be compulsory for at least the first three years of high school in order to raise awareness and foster a sense of identity and pride regarding Emancipation Day, as well as other cultural significant days. In fact, we should give history the same attention as the core subjects of Mathematics and English Language in the curriculum instead of viewing the subject as an afterthought or add on.
Disturbingly, not only is the spirit of Emancipation Day dying, but also the awareness of our young people regarding where they are in the human story. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s development. There is hardly any indigenous Jamaican culture anymore due to the intense cultural penetration from North America which we have gladly embraced.  We have become culturally unbalanced as a people.
It appears as if Emancipation Day is being treated like a step child who no one really wants but who is tolerated to some extent. This attitude is unacceptable especially for a country whose population is over ninety per cent of African descent.
We need to redouble our efforts at empowering the people of Jamaica, especially the youth population by infusing in the school’s syllabus and educating our students about their past in order for them to successful navigate a bright future.
In the words of Marcus Garvey, a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

Wayne Campbell