Wife of the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Most Hon. Lady Allen has said that the demand on education has changed dramatically, with intensified calls for more affordable education and equal access at all levels.
She suggested that new and creative modes of delivering and financing education be explored, to meet the changing demands on the sector.
Lady Allen was speaking at an awards ceremony for Sagicor Life Jamaica Limited’s Corporate Scholarship Programme, held last week at the company’s headquarters in New Kingston.
“It all boils down to our vision for ourselves and our country, Jamaica, and the degree to which we are prepared to go the extra mile to achieve and embrace the inevitable changes in education,” she said.
Lady Allen noted, for example, that education no longer means a formal classroom setting with desks and chairs and a teacher giving instruction, but instead, computers and computer-related technologies have dramatically changed education.
She said that for this generation of students, technology plays a major role in how they learn and interact with their peers, pointing out that at the click of a mouse, “the world is literally at their fingertips.”
“The reality is that information technology has brought unprecedented changes to the way we communicate, learn and transmit social and cultural values,” she further noted.
Citing the initiative of one CARICOM neighbour, in an effort to improve education, Lady Allen said that Guyana plans to spend US$30 million over the next three years to purchase 90,000 computers to distribute to its citizens who cannot afford to buy.
She advised, however, that as widespread as computer technology has become, it will never completely replace the fundamentals in education and training. “Manners and discipline must never be allowed to decline, because they are fundamental to any modern society,” Lady Allen said.
She cautioned too, that the Internet has little if any means of quality control, as anything can be posted online, with the effect being that in the same way it helps to educate and build up, it can also destroy.
“We have to remain vigilant and prepare our students to know right from wrong and make the best choice in every situation,” she said.
During the ceremony, 73 students were awarded scholarships. Now in its 19th year, the scholarship programme was established to provide support to children of Sagicor employees who have demonstrated high academic performance, as part of ongoing efforts to expand the range of benefits to employees and to promote academic excellence.
The programme is open to children of all permanent employees of Sagicor who have attained at least a B plus average; demonstrated character and integrity in school; and have shown leadership potential and involvement in the wider society through extra-curricular activities.
The scholarship programme is financed through staff contributions ranging from $250 to $5,000 per month, which is matched by the company.