The University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) launched its publication Integrated Higher Education in Support of Flexible Learning Pathways in Jamaica on Friday October 22, 2021. The Hon Fayval Williams, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, was the guest speaker at the virtual launch. The Minister lauded the UCJ for its role in being the National External Quality Assurance Agency for higher education in Jamaica.
According to the Hon Fayval Williams, “The Ministry has identified among its priorities for educational development, alternate pathways into higher education as it seeks to increase enrolment in post-secondary and higher education.” She also noted that the Career Advancement Programme (CAP) has been the leveller for education in Jamaica through the establishment of Grades 12 and 13 in high schools in Jamaica. “Through the 7-years of secondary education, each student has the opportunity to actualize his/her fullest potential, by gaining certification for entry into the labour market or transitioning into higher education,” she explained. The Education Minister encouraged all parents to adopt this programme and give support to their children as Grades 11-13 becomes a natural part of the education landscape.
The Minister also commended the higher education institutions for their great work and commitment to the external quality assurance process over the years. She encouraged both private and public higher education institutions to continue to make quality their hallmark as they pursue continuous improvement.
Professor Karen Mundy, Director IIEP-UNESCO gave greetings at the launch. She commended Jamaica on this seminal research. She stated that flexible learning pathways offer students the opportunity to transition between TVET and higher education. According to Profession Mundey, “Flexible pathways reorient students to combine studies and work based learning.”
The global study was implemented by IIEP-UNESCO to determine progress made by countries which are implementing measures in relation to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) # 4 and the Education 2030 Agenda. Researchers were selected from across the world, and Jamaica was one of the eight countries selected to participate in this global study.
The research project for Jamaica sought to determine the effectiveness of alternative or flexible learning pathways being pursued by the Government of Jamaica, to increase access to equitable and quality higher education and lifelong learning opportunities for its citizens, including disadvantaged persons. It also provided policy advice to the Ministry of Education as it pursues building or strengthening flexible learning pathways as an area of reform of Education in Jamaica.
The University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) gave leadership to this project given its longstanding experience with the Jamaican higher education sector, and its external quality assurance mandate which includes the registration of higher education and training institutions and providers, and the accreditation of programmes and institutions. A component of this project looked at the influence of FLPs on transition into the labour market and how persons from disadvantaged backgrounds access and benefit equally and equitably from higher education.
Data for the research was gathered through in-person interviews with stakeholders from a number of entities including representatives from: The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; Ministry of Labour and Social Security; Jamaica Tertiary Commission; Statistical Institute of Jamaica; Private Sector Organization of Jamaica; Jamaica Employers Federation as well as from the higher education institutions, namely: the University of Technology Jamaica; the Northern Caribbean University and the Moneague College.
Jamaica’s research team were made up of Dr Dawn Barrett Adams, UCJ’s Accreditation Officer, and Jamaica’s focal point on this project and Dr Carolyn Hayle, lecturer, researcher and former Chairman of the UCJ, was the independent Consultant.