The University of the West Indies, Mona and Tertiary Education in Jamaica.  In Revisiting Tertiary Education Policy in Jamaica: Towards Personal Gain or Public Good? Editors Olivene Burke and Rheima Holding. Ian Randle Publishers: Kingston. Pp 60-103: 2005

This Chapter on the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus and tertiary education in Jamaica, is situated within a volume revisiting tertiary education policy in Jamaica, especially with respect to its public and private benefits. Before delving directly into the subject, the Chapter steps back and examines, if even briefly, general issues. These include rapid, pervasive and disruptive technology changes; reactions to these changes including reaching back to traditional verities; the revival of historical enmities; and uncertainties because social cause and effect are usually so long separated in time such that the generation generating the cause is not around to address the effect and its consequences. Included in this general background is the relationship between society and formal education. Generally, education is intentional activity and tertiary education even more so. Hence, the teleological dimension becomes very relevant since purposeful action is taken within a framework of learned meaning.

Becoming more specific, the Chapter examines tertiary education in Jamaica with respect to its relatively recent history, dispersed policy apparatus, loose legal framework, relatively small size and increasing demand pressure consequent upon the expansion of secondary education and the constraints and expense of seeking tertiary education abroad. Also discussed are Government and development corporation agencies policies and financing of the different levels of formal education and the limited priority given to tertiary education.

The concluding half of the Chapter addresses the return on investment of tertiary education generally, and within tertiary, on different specializations offered at UWI. Detailed empirical data, in table and charts, document enrollments at all public tertiary institutions, annual recurrent and capital expenditures over the period 1975 to 2002/2003. Expenditures are compared in constant 1986$ Jamaican and US$. Studies are cited which show that tertiary education is both a public good and a private benefit. The critical question is whether the Government as the recipient of the public good or students/parents are prepared their fair share.





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Innovating on a shoe string



Innovating on a Shoe-string: A Western Caribbean Case Study describes the imperatives that impelled the Joint Board of Teacher Education, JBTE, Mona, in the late 1990s, to begin to design and implement innovations applying technology to its mission and mandate. The JBTE is a unique partnership in teacher education involving Governments, colleges training teachers, teachers’ unions in the Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica and the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. The JBTE was set up in the mid-1960s to validate and guarantee standards. One of the main reasons for locating the JBTE within the structure of the University of the West Indies was to facilitate the application of research, development, and innovation to the achievement of desired standards. Essentially, the JBTE not only set and validated standards in teacher education in the Western Caribbean but also provided developmental assistance to colleges training teachers to meet the set standards.

The paper describes the main new challenges posed to the partnership in the late 1990s with respect to the modernization of instruction; upgrading quality related to the emerging knowledge society; the provision of on the job professional training to teacher educators, teacher trainees and teachers in service in schools; shrinking resources from Ministries of Education; globalization especially with respect to emerging common education standards at the tertiary level; and the need for Caribbean societies to become greater producers of knowledge.

In response to the demand to meet these challenges, as well as to find solutions to these very real problems, as they affect teacher education, the JBTE has identified information and communication technology as a critical resource and have embarked upon the following initiatives:

The Paper lists the six major technology solutions that the partnership planned, five of which came off the drawing board and were implemented. Of the five that were implemented three have been sustained. Of the two that were implemented but not sustained the Paper gives a detailed account of the development of a College Management Information System (College Manager) up to 2001. The intention was to design, develop and give the College Manager, free of cost, to all fourteen colleges training teachers within the JBTE Partnership. The Colleges, however, would have the responsibility to implement College Manager within their operations,

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Education and Social Mobility: The Case of the Jamaican Peasant was written and published in 2008. As background, the Paper describes:

  1. The four major institutions that formed the peasant communities, (free villages) that newly freed slaves established to enable themselves to move off plantations and away from the degradation of slavery.
  2. The three main periods of engagement of the Colonial State with public education between 1834 and 1962 in Jamaica: The Delinquent Colonial State, 1834 to 1865; the Benevolent Colonial State 1866 to 1899 and the Re-aligned Colonial State 1900 to 1962.
  3. Changes in the involvement of Christian denominations over the period 1834 to 1962

Against this background the Paper details the patriarchal communities that free villagers, with support from dissenting Christian Denominations, established  to rectify the matrifocal forms that had developed in slavery and how these translated into male-biased upward social mobility patterns that favored men and boys in the 19th century as well as how female-biased upward social mobility patterns emerged in the 20th century as the Colonial State, with the support of Christian Denominations, favored education of girls and women. The Paper documents empirical data on school enrolment and literacy disaggregated by gender, race, and age to provide evidence of the shifts in patterns described.

The Paper concludes with a discussion of what the patterns of relations between education and upward social mobility of the descendants of African ancestry in Jamaica, over more than a century, contribute to two seminal debates on the legacy of slavery and African retentions. The first debate was in the United States in the late 1930s and early 1940s between E. Franklin Frazier, "The Negro Family in the United States", and Melville J. Herskovits, "The Myth of the Negro Past". The second was between Raymond T Smith and Michael G Smith in the 1960s about the nature of Caribbean societies.

References are also made to the works of Edith Clarke, ‘My Mother Who Fathered Me’ and George Beckford, ‘Persistent Poverty’. The observation is made that while the Case of the Jamaican peasant is congruent with some positions taken by these sociologists, anthropologists, and economists, the central consideration appears to be the structure of opportunity sponsored by groups controlling the State and the cross-purposes of those participating in the education system.

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Defining the Caribbean by some of its contradictions

Book Cover: Defining the Caribbean by some of its contradictions

A Conference was planned for the year 2000 on the Theme: The Intellectual Traditions of the Caribbean. I was invited and submitted this Paper: Defining the Caribbean by its Contradictions. The paper was accepted for presentation at the Conference which did not take place. It is therefore referenced here as a Mimeograph Paper.

Defining the Caribbean by its Contradictions does not describe the Intellectual Traditions of the Caribbean directly. Rather, it proposes the major contradictions and cross-currents of Caribbean experience which shape and influence ways of knowing, patterns of thought, mindsets, and genres of argumentation from which Caribbean Intellectual Traditions emerge as they seek to address the unresolved tensions inherent in these contradictions. Implicitly the paper asserts that Caribbean Intellectual Traditions are dynamic and not static and have to be understood from the perspective of imperatives that are neither fixed nor final.

The Paper explores six major contradictions and cross-currents that mark the Caribbean. These are:

  1. Migrant mainstreams
  2. Dominant minorities and marginal majorities
  3. Modern societies of modest means
  4. Cultural cradle on the economic periphery
  5. Common history, identity and destiny punctuated by diverse insularities
  6. Creative folk and conforming intelligentsia.
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Elementary School Teachers and the Liberation of Women

Book Cover: Elementary School Teachers and the Liberation of Women

Elementary School Teachers and the Liberation of Women: (1992) Kingston: Shortwood Teachers' College.

Elementary School Teachers and the Liberation of Women examines women’s general historic disadvantage in society and their evolving liberation from these inequalities and injustices. It makes references to the protest of individual women to women’s disadvantage in different eras as well as the collective action of women to remove these disadvantages and link these movements to other movements to address other types of inequities, inequalities, and injustices in society. It raises the issue of the role of structural factors versus individual and collective action by aggrieved persons in the social transformation of society. It asserts that Caribbean data and experience confound the orthodoxy that industrialization, urbanization, national sovereignty and class struggle are the causal factors that explain women’s liberation and the spread of schooling in the world.

Elementary School Teachers and the Liberation of Women offers an alternative theoretical explanation of the transformation of society over time. Using UNESCO Statistics reporting a global snapshot of the gender of elementary school teachers in most countries of the world and historical data on the gender of elementary school teachers over the 150 year period 1830s to 1980s in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and the United States, the Monograph asserts that the relationship between the gender of elementary school teachers and the extent of women’s liberation in society is neither haphazard nor fickle but rational and consistent.

It concludes by making two major claims. First is that changes in the gender composition of elementary school teachers is a social barometer of changes in gender roles and relationships in society. Second is that the founding of Shortwood Teachers College for Ladies by men in 1885, at the height of the first feminist movement and which it survived, marked a turning point in the liberation of women of African ancestry in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

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