Fri | Nov 27, 2020

Handcuffed by the system - Senior lecturer urges changes in approach to education

Published:Friday | January 11, 2019 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott

One of Jamaica's leading educators is calling for a radical change in the approach of teachers who are moulding young minds for the future.

Senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, Dr Lawrence Nicholson says that the Jamaican education system is an enemy of entrepreneurship and enterprise.

Nicholson, the chairman of the steering committee of the European Union-backed Poverty Reduction Project (PRP), is perplexed by some of the traditions that he believes are stifling growth for those passing through it.

"When I trace right through, I find that persons who are considered 'bright', who would be doing well in math, physics, and other areas, our teachers are trained to shepherd them in certain areas to being in engineering, being doctors, etc, and those who seem to be struggling, they say [to them], 'You can go over there, you can go do business'," charged Nicholson at the European Union Forum for Solutions for Youth Unemployment, Internship, and Volunteerism at the Mona Visitors' Lodge last Thursday.

Nicholson argued that this approach has negatively affected how entrepreneurship is perceived.

The senior lecturer underscored how this approach has affected students of African descent who have passed through the education system.

"They come in my class and all they want to do is to pass exam, and they do not want to be engaged in critical thinking. Not only that, they want to get an education in order to go work for someone.

"We believe that the way to learn is always through education only. You find that even in family-owned businesses, persons of African ancestry have discouraged their children to come back in the business, which is unlike people of Indian and Chinese ancestry," said Nicholson.


Structural changes needed


He offered that to reverse this, the education system must undergo structural changes.

"Entrepreneurship should not be confined to what we (now) define it to be," said Nicholson.

Entertainer Wayne Marshall, who participated in the forum, also weighed in on the issue as he argued that education should drive entrepreneurship.

"Education is the backbone of the ideas - of the ability to manifest these great ideas. If my vocabulary is only cat, bat, and rat, I can't come up with the next scientific concept that the world is going to benefit from because I only know cat, bat, and rat," said Marshall.