Thu | Jul 18, 2024

Work towards a Vision 2050

Published:Monday | June 17, 2024 | 12:06 AM


It is evident that Jamaica may not attain its goal of becoming a developed nation by 2030. However, we must acknowledge and applaud ourselves for the substantial progress we have made so far. One of Jamaica’s major achievements is its economic turnaround. According to the World Bank Public Expenditure Report on Education, after over two decades of low growth and high debt, Jamaica implemented critical reforms in 2013 that stabilised the economy, reduced debt, and fuelled growth. These reforms led to significant progress in fiscal management, substantial reductions in debt relative to GDP, and maintained stability in monetary indicators. This achievement should inspire us to address our social challenges, particularly crime.

Education and resocialisation are pivotal in reducing crime and increasing productivity. Yet, this goal seems unattainable, given the current performance of our education system. Despite investing over 20 per cent of our GDP in education, the return on investment remains disappointingly low.

According to the World Bank’s Human Capital Index, a child born in Jamaica today will be only 53 per cent as productive as they could be with complete education and full health. This is below the average for the Latin America and the Caribbean region. The report explains that the low level of human capital is primarily due to the poor quality of education: a child starting school at age four can expect to complete 11.4 years of schooling by their 18th birthday, but this translates to only 7.1 learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS).

The quality of education has further declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic. World Bank simulations indicate that Jamaica risks losing 1.3 years in LAYS (from 7.1 to 5.8) due to a 10-month school closure.

Jamaica must extend its vision of becoming a knowledge-based, technologically driven and developed economy by 2050. This strategic plan must be crafted by the Jamaican people, led by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and the Planning Institute of Jamaica. The strategy must prioritise education with a unified effort from all sectors. Blame-shifting is futile; urgency is imperative to elevate our population to 21st-century learning standards.

Every governmental organisation must align with the vision of transforming Jamaica into a knowledge-based, technologically driven country.