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Nonformal Education

Jamaica continues to be plagued by high unemployment. Part of this is because there simply are not enough jobs, and part of it is due to relatively low literacy rates and the lack of appropriate job skills among Jamaicans. The government has decided that investing in education will provide the best routes to solving the problem. Raising literacy rates and providing job skills is expected to enable more people to qualify for existing jobs, and it is also hoped that a literate, educated, and skilled populace will result in the creation of more home-grown jobs and attract enterprises that will bring jobs to the island.

The literacy problem has been attacked on two fronts. Reform of the primary-school curriculum and the end of social promotion policies is supposed to ensure that no student leaves the system without basic literacy and numerical skills. And, the Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Adult Literacy (JAMAL) was established in 1974 to eradicate illiteracy in those aged fifteen and over through nonformal education channels. The program is organized by a core of literacy specialists who are supported by a large network of volunteers who conduct classes in workplaces and community centers throughout the island. Government figures show that almost 114,000 people enrolled in JAMAL's programs in the years 1994 to 2000. The MOE&C points to the results of the National Literacy Survey done in 1994 as evidence of JAMAL's success. In 1994, approximately 75.4 percent of the population over fifteen was literate, with rates being 81.3 percent for females and 69.4 percent for males. There was also an inverse relationship between age and literacy: the rate for the fifteen-to-nineteen age group was 86.5 percent whereas that for the sixty-five-and-over group was 47.9 percent. JAMAL has stepped up efforts to establish workplace literacy programs in an effort to close the gap between men and women.

There are a variety of programs that are intended to reach those who normally are not served by the standard educational system. Some of these programs are based in community colleges, evening institutes, and community centers. These include the HEART/NTA and JAMAL programs. The MOE&C has vigorously encouraged the formation of partnership programs between private and public sector companies and the established educational institutions. This has led to a variety of non-traditional training schemes, including a special program offered by Utech for personnel of Air Jamaica. Utech also has partnership training programs with a number of companies that lead to a diploma or certificate.

The MOE&C has stressed the need for development of distance education programs and implementation of other educational delivery systems such as computerbased instruction and internet-based courses, but the necessary infrastructure for these is not widely available. The ministry has set a goal of placing at least one computer with Internet access in each school on the island by the end of 2002. This may provide a base from which to develop such a program, as may the formation of partnership programs with businesses and NGOs.

The other major program addresses employment skills. The Human Employment and Resource Training trust/National Training Agency (HEART/NTA) is a statutory program set up in 1982 that was intended to administer and equip all public sector vocational training programs. It is funded by a three-percent training levy on private sector payrolls over a certain amount (originally about US $7,200). HEART/NTA programs are available to those over seventeen years of age, but there are programs for younger persons such as the Learning for Earning Activity Programme. Pre-vocational training is also offered at Vocational Training Centers (VTCs) for those who do not qualify for specific HEART/NTA programs. Most HEART/NTA programs have some kind of entry requirements, and VTCs provide a sort of feeder system for these programs. Some HEART/NTA programs have been articulated with programs at Utech and the College of Arts, Science, and Education, thus offering graduates of these programs admission to formal/degree-level educational programs.

The program offers institutionally based training in eight HEART/NTA Academies and sixteen VTCs spread across the island. On-the-job training is offered through the School-Leaver's Training Opportunities Programme and also through apprenticeship programs. Communitybased programs are offered through the Skills 2000 Project and the Special Needs Programme.

Average enrollment in HEART/NTA programs during the years 1993 through 1998, the most recent years for which figures are available, was 12,373 per annum, with the largest annual enrollment coming in 1998; 58.7 percent of enrollees were female. Apparel and sewn products, commercial skills, hospitality, and construction skills programs were the most popular. An average of 6,868 graduated per annum during 1993-1998, with the highest number of graduates (10,996) coming in 1998; females accounted for 66.6 percent of all graduates. Reflecting the enrollment profile, the majority of graduates were in the areas of apparel and sewn product, building, and commercial skills.

The Social Development Commission (SDC), a joint responsibility of the MOE&C and the Ministry of Local Government, Youth, and Community Development, is responsible for structuring services for youth and communities. Its Community Center Programme has trained approximately 2000 young people in home making and crafts. National Youth Services and Operation Strive, also SDC initiatives, provide training and services to youth in mostly urban areas. Other, non-SDC, organizations provide vocational and other job-related programs for youth; these include the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, the Peer Counseling Association, Youth Opportunity Unlimited, the Mel Nathan Institute, the Kingston Restoration Company, the Youth Educational and Support System, and the Lift Up Jamaica Programme.

The Integrated Community Development Programme is the most extensive and innovative of the SDC's efforts. It is a community-based self-help program. As of 1998, almost 11,000 people had benefited from training and assistance that resulted in communityorganized income-generating projects such as the Meylersfield Food Fish Project, Mile Gully Coffee Farms, Waltham Basket Weaving, Bromley Vegetable Farms, and Highgate Dolls. The Government of Jamaica Bee-Keeping Project has also trained and set up apiaries for about 1,200 individuals in rural areas. The MOE&C has also formulated more broad-based nonformal educational initiatives under the rubric of "Education for Better Living." Its objectives include the encouragement and propagation of values and attitudes generally within the society and particularly regarding respect for fundamental rights and freedoms and the responsibilities of the individual to society; respect for observance of legal and social codes and stability in social life, the imperative to positively influence youth and family and to strive for the proper education and ideas on matters of general public interest. . .(UNESCO 2000, Part II, 20). To date, much of this effort has focused on establishing the Public Service Broadcasting System and on a weekly full-page weekly bulletin that appears in The Gleaner, Jamaica's largest circulation newspaper. The MOE&C, along with all other government agencies and ministries, is developing a website that is intended to serve as a portal for all sorts of educational resources for all of its constituencies.

Distance learning experiments have been undertaken throughout the last three decades but have been crippled by a lack of infrastructure and the expense of the equipment needed for such efforts. One must keep in mind that telephones and cable television and even electricity may be rarities in rural areas, and these things are prohibitively expensive for many individuals in both rural and urban areas. And, one must also keep in mind that many schools do not have enough desks and chairs for students and teachers or buildings that meet minimum standards.

The effort to supply computers and Internet access to all primary schools and computer laboratories in all secondary schools may result in most of the island becoming "wired", and such things as broadband transmission and/or fiber optic lines may open things up further in the distance learning arena. UWI's three regional campuses have been linked via various forms of video transmission since the 1980s, and experimental links have been established from time to time between UWI and teachers' colleges. Advances (and eventual decreases in costs) in wireless and other technologies may lead to broader use of distance learning in all sectors of the educational system, and all indications are that Jamaicans and their government will enthusiastically embrace new technologies when they become accessible.

Other Professional Programs: Nurses are trained in a number of schools that fall under the authority of the Ministry of Health, one dental auxiliary school (also under the Ministry of Health) trains nurses exclusively for dentistry practice. Admission to these programs requires prescribed minimum scores on at least four CXC subjects, with English and Science required. The course of study lasts three years; the final year involves a supervised internship. Courses and certification in other allied health fields are offered at a wide range of both vocational/technical institutions and at the universities.

The Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts is a rather unique cultural and training institution. The school's aim is to produce creators, performers, and educators who will disseminate knowledge of artistic technique and of Jamaican/Caribbean historical and social development and its relation to local and regional culture. There are two courses of study: certificate (two years) and diploma (four years); certificates and/or diplomas are granted in music, dance, drama, and art. The curriculum is structured so that all students take a common set of foundation courses in their first year. In the second year they rotate through all of the subject areas; the third and fourth years are for specialized training. Graduates find employment in all sorts of cultural and artistic organizations and in the primary and secondary schools. Some primary and secondary teachers use the Manley School's diploma and certificate programs to get specialized training in arts and cultural education. The school was originally founded in 1995 by the government of Jamaica for Jamaicans, but it now draws students from the whole Caribbean basin and beyond.

The College of Agriculture, Science, and Education and the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sports offer teacher training in specialized areas as well as a range of certificate, diploma, and degree programs. These institutions also serve students from both the island and the region.

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Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceJamaica - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education