Sat | Dec 3, 2022

Time to decolonise education

Published:Wednesday | September 28, 2022 | 12:06 AM


Just recently, I had discussions with some students on decolonisation as the reversal of colonisation. I told them that though the process can be explained in few pages of a book, they must have that imagination to visualise that centuries of political expropriation cannot be reversed in a few years. However, there is always the need to start.

We looked at the process – the agitation by the masses; the role of articulate leaders; political parties; a new constitution; and a new flag, but the change has not occurred across the board. For example, in the case of Jamaica, the matter of education remained unchanged. Sixty years after Independence and we have not made the most fundamental move towards change, and that is decolonising education. Simply, we have not designed a new philosophy of education to displace the existing colonial philosophy.

We have lots of discussions about problems in education and what the process of teaching and learning is not doing. The failure of education in Jamaica has to do with operating on a philosophy that was not developed for an independent society. We have experienced two so-called education transformation commissions and both have missed the target on the meaning of transformation.

In recent weeks, the new president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) called for “serious national debate on (the) philosophy guiding education”. This is arguably one of the most profound statements coming from the leadership to a docile teachers’ union since its merger.

We, as a people, should not wait on the leaders to respond. We the people must begin the struggle for a new philosophy in education in the same way we began the struggles for decolonisation.

Changes take time but a start is needed. The time to decolonise education is now!