Public Investment in Education for the Domestic Economy or for Export: Policy Choice or False debate?

The challenge of development confronts us in every sphere of value-creating enterprise and endeavour in Jamaica. We ask why is it so difficult to get things done and to find competent people to engage in the process of development and wealth creation. Those of us who have broader frames of reference, compare how easily and efficiently transactions are concluded in an increasing number of overseas jurisdictions, and praise the productivity and know-how of their workforces. It could be reasonably argued that their core success/failure ingredient is an educated, and therefore trainable, population.

The more than twenty-five year decline in Jamaica’s total factor productivity (the basic measure of our economy’s international competitiveness), is said to be attributable to a multiplicity of factors including the less than optimal availability of productivity tools at all levels of the Jamaican workplace and the absence of a truly enabling and facilitating public regulatory and administrative environment. However, the dysfunction of our secondary education system-- only 30% of the graduating age cohort are able to engage in sophisticated job training and certification and/or higher education-- is also key to our success/failure. 


Education and training are used by countries in response to the demands of today’s knowledge-based global economy. Education is used to transform labour, a once cheap and available factor of production in the agriculture or manufacturing eras, into human capital. The efficiency and effectiveness with which Jamaica processes all its  citizens through quality early childhood, then primary and secondary education, and subsequently facilitate the maintenance of their professional and intellectual competitiveness through higher education and training as a life-long learning imperative for all, is the core ingredient for Jamaica’s equitable success and sustained prosperity.

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