To compete in today’s complex world, Jamaica needs to concentrate on two aspects of its formal education.
The first is the teaching of foreign languages. The teaching of foreign languages should be a part of the elementary school curriculum. By age 10 every student should have some working ability in a foreign language. The offerings should include Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese and German. The assumption is that every school child would have competence in formal English. Language is not only a functional tool for communication and serviceable in a country that advertises itself as a desirable tourist destination, but the above languages represent the areas with which the island might be doing most of its commercial trade.
The second aspect is on information technology. Every school from elementary to university should stress the importance of being able to interface with every dimension of the various technical aspects of information technology, from the programming of computer languages to the servicing of the machines and modification of software. This involves controlling massive knowledge bases and global information systems and constructing cloud computing, and web technologies and bioinformatics. That is the future, and if the country really wants its next generation to be at the forefront of the ongoing technology revolution it had better start as early as possible. Maybe elementary school might even be too late. Yet it is better to be late than to be absent.
J Michael Johnston