Foolhardy, Fumbling, Folly

How times flies; to the amazement of most political pundits in Jamaica , Mr. Bruce (de Driva) Golding has survived all of two (2) whole years in office, slim margin and all. Over the next several days it is an absolute national past-time to grade the administration; in print and on innumerable radio talk shows.

I have often wondered whether Jamaicans had anything to do with writing the Bible in particular, Proverbs. For we have, as you all well know, a proverb for just about every situation. For instance; “de higher the monkey climb de more him expose”. This proverb in my estimation succinctly describes the two year of the Golding administration. Recall them in lowly opposition, they had all the answers.

The economy; jobs, jobs, and more jobs; energy; alternative energy, renewable energy, garbage to energy; health ; give the nurses more pay, hell double their pay! Every problem they knew the fix. However no sooner had they found their individual designated parking space at Gordon House, wham, collective amnesia! This disgraceful exposure, characterized by cluelessness on major issues of governance continues unabated .

There is so little talent on this team that like the hapless West Indies cricketers, we all know the end game as soon as Chris Gayle is given out, so lacking in depth is this team. So goes the Golding administration. Much the same that Chris has to bat, bowl and field for the entire team, ditto Mr. Golding.

There is just no depth to this team. For instance in the Energy portfolio two years hence and no discernable accomplishment, not even a credible Energy Policy Document. In the meanwhile the potential of the sector goes unrecognized and unrealized while the Jamaican people are asked to dig ever deeper into hopelessly empty pockets.

The bright spark, so say some jaded pundits, are the Agriculture and Education Ministries. But here too from my perspective, nothing spectacular has arisen. For instance I can’t but wonder whether our Agriculture Minister notwithstanding his expected professorial insights, (the guy was a lecturer after all) even comprehend the distinction between competitive and comparative advantage.

Why the fixation on rice production. For as aptly stated by the former Agriculture Minister, explaining why his administration did not bother with this production stated “ the few acres of rice that we may be able to produce in Jamaica , me one could nyam it”. No doubt he is right, we have no discernible competitive or comparable advantage, hence it ought to be a no go for rational thinkers.

We have competitive advantage in coffee, pimento, ackee, ginger and dozens of tropical fruits whose production nary a word is uttered. Let me inform our lecturer now Agriculture Minister, ‘we must produce those items we have a competitive advantage and use the proceeds to buy those that where we don’t have either competitive or comparative advantages, period’. Now on to the dismal showing of  Education.

Jamaica ’s Education Minister is hell bent on building the best education system of the 20th century. How much good will that do us in the 21 century ? The Golding Administration is mired down in the wrong century and even if Andrew Holness was to achieve all his vaulted goals, our students will still be obsolete. Why do I assert this?

Well let’s look at the philosophy of education in the 20 th Century. In this century (20 Th) a highly educated person was one who had a breadth of knowledge, translated as ,a little of everything. Hence our curricula had students exposed to 10 to 14 subjects. More was better and our better students were those best able to regurgitate the smattering of this large offerings. I’m hereby postulating that education and knowledge in the 21 century will be characterized by depth of knowledge; translated as a few subjects, known in the most minute of details. Or in other words, knowing a subject is in so great detail and depth even to minutiae. If a child is interested in Computers, then give it to them until it comes out of their ears. Bible knowledge can be left for those so inclined to be absorbed on Sundays in the precincts of the church, not our schools.

If the child likes architecture and drawing, then dump the T squares; computers, plotters and Computer Aided Drawing software are the tools of this 21 century exposure to this discipline. For without exposure to the modern tools of the trade, our students are square pegs in round holes. Finally here, this predilection on “block and steel” as education infrastructure, is a misplaced relic of 20 Th century thinking. The appropriate infrastructure is in cyberspace, laptop computers, WiFi network, and Information/Communication infrastructure.

This will transform our classrooms to exploration centers, guided by virtual teachers, and where real teachers are merely facilitators and guides, as our students learn the new fashion way, self directed learning. Inarguably, Jamaica has many gifted math and science teachers, but these cannot be before all students, everywhere, all the time, right? Wrong!! We can give every child the absolute best of instruction, at his pace and timing, via modern Information and Communication Technologies, day or night.

This is the revolution that is needed to lift Jamaica up and for all the high sound rhetoric of the Golding administration this is not what they got in mind! Rather much of the same old bankrupt pedagogy of the past. And without a clear discernment of the landscape of the new age, they are fumbling around clueless as to the lay of the land, hopelessly lost in the wilderness, while the frontiers of opportunity and prosperity for our people lie to the Northeast, un-trodden.

I give the administration F,F,F, for foolhardy fumbling folly.

About Mark Lee

Editor, author and writer with career spanning print, radio, television and new media.

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T. Griffins

True words, but to get ‘us’ to listen and to think or to accept another viewpoint is dificult. Jamaica must not stagnate as it has for the past 47 years. There are some improvements yes, but mostly in creature comforts. The areas to make that critical shift is still in a ‘ should we’ mode. Bold steps are needed andneeded now!

Trevor Dawes

You do make some cogent points. However, the failed policies (if I’m reading you right) this administration are pursuing are no different than what the previous administration did. As for your recommendations for education, I am in agreement with you. What I’d like to see are specialty high schools so you could have one that specializes in computer sciences, another in the performing arts, another in auto repairs and so on. You’d still have your traditional high schools and all the schools would still have to teach Math and English as part of any curriculum.
The problem is that the changes you’d like to see in Jamaica are not going to happen until and unless there is a change in leadership, regardless of which party forms the government. By this I mean that it’s going to take a generational change before you can even contemplate the change in governance, in politics and in the society. It means having folks who aren’t going to accept the status quo and make excuses for why things are. We have folks talking the talk but not walking the walk and thus Jamaica is where it is.

Oliver Hunter

Doing something because it is the rational thing to do, has never been a feature of our politics. The post accurately captures the scenario of the JLP’s administration. However neither party has acted in the best interests of the nation. And with the focus always being on the minor , the majors will never get done. Jamaica is approaching middle age – Its all downhill from here.

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