Getting serious about tertiary education
A Jamaican education suffers grade inflation and many perform below benchmarks, including some baptised with degrees. This process begins early when an infant is boosted, as his parents pay well. He is not potty-trained, chronically inattentive, has poor hand-eye coordination, won’t group play, and is not ready but moves up.
So at primary school to sit still is agony, but lunch is respite. He does not evince Bloom’s cognitive, psychomotor or affective attributes but age moves him up. And at secondary some 70 per cent like him can’t pass exit examinations. This is the process of making a tertiary student.
The headline of the editorial of the Sunday Observer of November 3, 2019 ‘Let’s get serious about tertiary education’ was moving. Education and training for life are inseparable; in days past, growing responsibility for life and gender skills as hunting or child rearing was it. Today education is crafted benchmarks (Primary Exit Profile, Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate, Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations) along an up-escalator of skills, knowledge, values, and English to create caring, well-adjusted adults who can communicate and earn a living.
So what is tertiary education? It replaced apprenticeships; being articled to some guru in philosophy, electricity, surveying, pedagogy, accounting, law, fine arts, etc. Many ace Duke Street attorneys never went to law school, or fine artists to art school. But tertiary has problems. First, it’s provisioned via a supply chain that delivers 30 per cent matriculation quality after years — not good enough! This affects both strands of tertiary:
a) the degree route which graduates for no special job, but trainable in mainly people skills; and
b) the competency-based route governed by regulations and accuracy of practice so graduates master some things and are trainable, especially around technology and machinery.