Education and Development
Policy Imperatives for Jamaica and the Caribbean
162 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.00 in
- Published: July 2020
Canute S. Thompson examines the nexus between the place and scope of the educational enterprise of a country and a country’s developmental prospects and experience. His central claim is that the sustainable development of a country is a function of the quality of its education system and the levels to which its citizens are educated. He argues that in this calculus, the quality of post-secondary and tertiary education systems is a determinant of a country’s prospects for development.
In examining the issue of underdevelopment facing the Caribbean, Thompson explains that institutions of higher learning in the region face the imperative of finding ways of becoming both more accessible and more relevant to the developmental needs of the region. Taking account of the provisions of the General Agreement on Trades in Services, he points to the disadvantages this trading arrangement poses for higher education institutions in small developing states and suggests ways in which the vulnerabilities these institutions face may be addressed.
While asserting that higher education institutions, including and especially the University of the West Indies, must find ways to remain viable in a highly competitive marketplace, Thompson argues that governments of the region have a duty to ensure the survival and success of these institutions. In this vein, he advances recommendations for the public funding of access to higher education.
Thompson also examines impediments to development – such as crime, the decline in social activism, weak institutional processes and leadership, and public mistrust – and explores their connection to education. He concludes that the path to sustainable regional development is dependent on improving the quality of, and access to, education, and that such improvements will in turn help contain crime, inspire social activism, strengthen institutional processes and leadership, and ultimately restore public trust.
Foreword / ix
Acknowledgements / xi
List of Abbreviations / xiii
Introduction / 1
Part 1. Issues in Higher Education
1. Higher Education in the Caribbean and the Challenge of Global Competition / 13
2. Financing Higher Education / 34
Part 2. Social Activism, Economic Development, Crime
3. Social Activism and the Development of the Caribbean / 47
4. Sustainable Economic Development: The Centrality of Education / 55
5. The Anatomy of Crime: A Jamaican Case Study / 70
Part 3. Leadership and Institutional Development
6. Leadership Development: Caribbean Political Leadership in the Spotlight / 89
7. Public Trust / 96
8. Public-Sector Transformation / 104
9. Courageous Leadership: An Appeal / 118
References / 125
Index / 137
This book represents an expansion and fine-tuning of some of the public commentaries on issues which the author, Dr C.S. Thompson, has made in recent years via newspaper columns, which I have been reading since the 2000s. These pieces have been well researched, refreshing and relevant. This book, then, is timely and welcomed, as it serves as an easy reference for exploring ideas on a variety of subjects related to regional and national development. Dr Thompson, in this, his sixth book, seeks to explore dimensions of various policy issues from the perspective of the need to radically review how countries of the Caribbean approach socio-economic development in a globalized world. To the same end, it also considers values such as citizen empowerment, public- sector transformation and the management of social ills such as corruption and crime. His objective is to influence public opinion and spur policy action at the political and institutional levels. While there are differences in some of the causes and manifestations of issues facing Caribbean countries, there is a degree of commonality. Thompson seeks to explore those common issues, even while focusing on manifestations in a specific country, Jamaica, with a view to highlighting probable solutions.
The subdivision of the book into sections focusing on (1) issues in higher education; (2) social activism, economic development, crime; and (3) leader- ship and institutional development provides the reader with a helpful guide on how to navigate the material. Depending on a reader’s interest, he or she may select any section of the book and explore the material there. The chapter titles are also quite apt and lend to easy decision-making for the reader concerning an area of study for further information and insight.
Part 1 of the book covers chapters 1 and 2. In chapter 1, Dr Thompson expands on a paper he presented at the Schools of Education Biennial Conference held in Trinidad and Tobago in 2019. In this chapter, he shows the challenges to the University of the West Indies (UWI) competing in a global educational context. He also makes the insightful observation that students move from lesser developed to more developed countries to study, while, on the other hand, developed countries move to lesser developed countries to provide education. Therefore, the money moves from lesser developed to more developed countries. He argues that the UWI and other universities in the Caribbean region need to adapt their delivery operations to take account of the growing market for studying abroad, which will mean investing heavily in online learning options. The author’s arguments outline the catalytic position in which the UWI finds itself and the work that this noble institution needs to do to remain locally competitive and globally relevant.
Chapter 2 discusses models for financing tertiary education. This is a subject of extreme importance given the relationship between tertiary education and sustainable economic growth and development. The author offers some interesting ideas on how countries of the Caribbean may approach the financing of this sector, which deserve due considerations of our policymakers.
Part 2 of the book, chapters 3 through 5, deals with the issues of social activism, productivity, economic growth and development, and crime. In chapter 4, Dr Thompson addresses the issues of activism and social consciousness. It speaks to colleagues in academia and challenges that community to be more visionary and courageous in how they see their roles as academics and social engineers. Chapters 4 and 5 address the issues of economic growth and development (chapter 4) and crime (chapter 5). The discussion of these issues is located within the Jamaican context. Addressing these in the same section is quite appropriate given the impact of crime on economic growth and development in Jamaica. While these issues are explored within the context of Jamaica, they are relevant to the Caribbean, where the levels of violence per capita are excessively high. The problem of violent crimes not only retards economic growth but limits the prospects for sustainable economic development.
Part 3 of the book (chapters 6 through 9) deals with issues of leadership development, fighting corruption and public-sector transformation. Each of these issues represents an area of challenge for countries of the Caribbean, and the author’s ideas represent a valuable contribution to matters which must move from discussion to resolute policy action.
This book is a welcomed and unique addition to the material on education and development in the Caribbean and may be the first of its kind with this scope of information. It will be a helpful reference for political practitioners in their role as agents of development and policy-making, as well as to leaders in academia and social policy. It should, of course, become required reading for students in the social sciences.
The Most Honourable Percival James Patterson, ON, OCC, PC, QC
Former prime minister of Jamaica, 1992–2006
9 October 2019