The World Teachers Day theme for 2014 “Invest in the Future. Invest in Teachers” is at once a summarisation of history and a prophecy. Jamaica and the rest of the world has found itself in a new place where having a robust education has cemented itself as the prime economic and social enabler with the teacher as its catalyst.
The historic ability to gain lucrative work without an education has been made virtually nonexistent by the computerisation and regulation of nearly every trade. Hence even the producers of handmade art and craft and construction workers are now faced with the need for at the minimum, secondary level education which includes information technology to permit the acquisition and manipulation of useful data.
Amidst this whirlwind of change the role of the teacher has remained constant, to provide the learner with the mental tools to acquire, interpret and develop knowledge and manipulate it to useful ends in the world around them. There is also a shift in how the teacher is viewed; a facilitator who guides the learner along a path of independence with responsibility for their own learning.
This profound role has brought clarity to the investment needed to prepare teachers to deliver lessons and the fulsome education experience that develops strong workers, strong thinkers, strong leaders and strong followers to advance the growth of people communities and the nation
In the case of JFLL, we find ourselves uniquely positioned, educating an adult learner with different learning needs, motives and styles. It also finds us of necessity making a strategic shift in how we invest in the teaching/learning aspect of our operations.
To enable their success in the classroom we have deployed and engaged in ongoing curriculum development for the High School Diploma Equivalency programme and invested in an aggressive programme to train teachers in its delivery. We are investing in the infrastructure to make the teaching learning environment as learner friendly and customer focussed as possible.
While the word invest inevitably conjures the notion of financial undertaking, it is critical that learners, parents and stakeholders invest themselves in the learning process and the teacher with at least the same zeal they pursue financial instruments. All parties have and must express a vested interest in supporting the work of the teacher through all opportunities afforded, from one to one learner consultation and group meetings and even just spending 5 minutes after class.
The critical nature of these investments manifest themselves in the same manner as any financial investment, but often in more dramatic fashion. JFLL’s teachers throughout its history have been able to empower people to collect the education dividend in successful careers that often include teaching.
They have turned energetic and eager learners into educated persons who have advanced their personal, community and national standing through education.
As I salute the teachers of JFLL and those everywhere else I must first thank them for their efforts and success to date and urge them to continue as while we cannot tell what technologies will be dominant in 30 years time, we can say with surety that today’s investment in teachers will prepare us all for that future.
There are approximately 1,500 adult learners enrolled in JFLL's high school equivalency pilot, with another 3,000 learners waiting to come on stream in the next phase. This is an increase of approximately 100 per cent over the previous year.
Christmas came to four residents of St. Thomas a little early in the form of a scholarship and support from the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund. Funded under the $25M CDB backed Bridge Jamaica project, the JFLL/JSIF project will cover tuition, books and other support for the learners to complete a 52 week course of study.
“There is no better way to assist in the moulding of a person than by providing that person with access to education,” she emphasised.