Set a Growth Agenda and Ensure our Children’s Future - Holness

Former Education Minister Andrew Holness yesterday lambasted the government for lack of vision and a failure to articulate a coherent economic development policy.  Addressing delegates of the JLP’s Area Council 3 in Central Manchester, Mr. Holness spoke about the link between a country’s education policy and the implementation of an economic development policy. He stated that ‘the quality of the education a child receives, will impact the quality of human resource input in the economy’.

 The JLP Leader went on to note that this is why a key education policy driver of a JLP administration is that every child is entitled to tuition free education. He said ‘This is a right which the JLP will give the Jamaican people. If we must become prosperous and grow our economy, every child must be educated to the highest standard.’

In exploring the link between the economy development of the country and the implementation of programmes pinned to the education policy, Mr. Holness stated that he was convinced that the PNP led government did not have an implementable or impactful economic plan. He said, ‘It is clear that education is not a priority for the present government’. He supported this assertion by explaining to delegates that the government is spending less on text books, while parents are faced with increasing auxiliary fees. Mr. Holness said; ‘No Jamaican child should be denied access to any school because they cannot afford the fees!’

 ‘Students will not be able to find a fit in the Jamaican economy when they graduate’- this he says is due to parents’ inability to afford their being in school, an inability to pay fees and to provide critical books and educational tools. He said that three cards are being played to Jamaican consumers at this time which are not working in their interest. One, he said, was to cut services being offered to taxpayers; the second card, to freeze salaries and the third to increase fees and taxes. In this case he said ‘you are worse off and getting poorer’

He advised the meeting that ‘This is why the JLP has set in place a task force to develop a growth agenda.  To ensure that our graduates can find space in the Jamaican economy, because they will have the right skills.’  

In closing his conversation with the delegates, Mr. Holness made a link between education and the establishment of the logistics hub in light of the Panama Canal expansion. ‘It makes no sense’, he insisted, ‘to project for a logistics hub if you have inadequate resources, primarily inadequately trained people to provide the critical supports necessary to ensure its success in Jamaica. You will then have people coming in from China and other countries, while our Jamaicans will stand by looking on’. He insisted, ‘Fix education and you can better plan to grow the economy’.