Imagine Jamaica as a city lit by the potential of each of its citizens. Our brilliance is already obvious. Now imagine if we lit every Jamaican adult with the minimum qualification for academic progress and employment. The light will be blinding. This dazzling ideal is the central pursuit of adult education in Jamaica and of the High School Diploma Equivalency Programme.

To accelerate and ingrain this pursuit demands a change of culture towards learning within us and become a national passion infused in our industries, communities and the strategies we use to grow them.

We must offer our heartiest congratulations and thanks to UNESCO in celebrating the 50th golden anniversary of International Literacy Day on September 8, 2016. Their contribution in words and in deeds to the development of literacy in Jamaica and worldwide can never be truly valued or fully acknowledged.

By their International  Literacy Day  theme “Reading the Past, Writing the Future,” UNESCO guides us to see that knowledge based work and therefore learning has become the most powerful tool in international economic and social development. Indeed here in Jamaica we see the positive transformation education has bestowed on those who embraced it.

Having successfully launched the High School Diploma Equivalency programme in 2014 and now proudly boasting of our soon to be first cohort of graduates it has come time to pursue a bigger and more ambitious goal of co-authoring Jamaica’s future.

There is an urgent opportunity and need to transform the Jamaican culture into that of a learning city by promoting lifelong education. This new culture will see the development, acquisition, application and imparting of knowledge become a central activity of daily life and national development.

The idea of lifelong education must be rethought and broadened. In addition to adapting and embracing to changes in the working environment, it should provide the individual with the critical thinking skills to add value to their lives and their communities.

In seeking to take Jamaica to 100% adult literacy, we will be engaging in partnerships, particularly with communities, churches and NGOs. This will take the HSDE programme the proverbial “last mile” into communities beyond easy reach of our classrooms. This will redound to the development of individuals and communities in the form of opportunities for increased earning, social cohesion and advancement and most of all create the opportunity of hope.

Every aspect of working and social life offers opportunities for both learning and doing. In spite of the fact that people need to use all these opportunities for learning and self-development, full use of their potential will never be achieved unless a sound basic education is provided. JFLL is now on that path where we intend to share a desire for and pleasure in learning, to develop one’s curiosity, to become critical thinkers. Imagine Jamaica where each individual is now teacher and learner. Learning therefore becomes a lifetime process, both in its diversity and duration.

Jamaica has advanced its adult educational status and technology vastly since “Each one, Teach One;” The results are easily visible in a myriad of ways in business, society and the arts. Equally visible are the remaining opportunities for advancement and but a few of the national improvements they offer; productivity, earnings for individuals and employers, social cohesion, family and community development, governance.

The responsibility of transforming Jamaica into a learning city cannot be left to JFLL alone or even the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information. That successful future must be co-authored by everyone reading this message and those who we all will teach how to. To that end we implore you to take up the charge of adult education, to shamelessly pursue it for yourselves, your neighbours, workers and the random person you see on the road. In this way we will build Jamaica into the bright shining city of knowledge and success we dream of.

 The JFLL is an agency of the Ministry of Education Youth and Information and is charged with the execution of lifelong learning interventions for adult and youth from basic literacy to the secondary level. The JFLL operates over 27 education centres across Jamaica pursuing its motto “Lifelong Learning for Lifelong Opportunities.”

Worrel Hibbert

Executive Director

Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning