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Graduates not ready for ‘life’

UWI dean knocks devaluation of education

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

DEPUTY Dean of the Faculty of Law at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus in Jamaica, Dr Leighton Jackson, says during his more than three decades as a teacher at the regional institution he has “increasingly seen the devaluation of what passes for an education”.
Jackson made the statement on Thursday night as he delivered the feature address at the Trinidad and Tobago Judicial Education Institute’s fourth distinguished jurist lecture at the Convocation Hall of the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.
The title of Jackson’s presentation was “The Yin and Yang of Commonwealth Caribbean Constitutional Social Democracy; Change for Stability and Progress”.
“Unfortunately as a teacher of the university for over 35 years, I have increasingly seen the devaluation of what passes for an education,” Jackson said.
Jackson told the audience he recently had to review the transcript of a student pursuing a Degree in Computer Science.
Jackson said the unnamed student did Mathematics, English A, Principles of Accounts, Business, Information Technology and Office Administration at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination.
“That is at the Fifth Form level, that is the foundation,” Jackson said.
He said the student did Computer Science Units, Accounting and Economics at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE.
“Of course it is of no surprise that this student is finding it very difficult to cope (at The UWI). How can we pass this off as an education? What in these courses that this student has done in the advanced years in high school prepares him to take part in the discourse that one ought to take part in in the society that we are hoping to create, a society wherein all persons feel a part of it,” Jackson said.
“The difficulty I have is that the student may well graduate with the skills to execute a job but isn’t that bringing us back to the prediction that we are capable merely of being ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’,” he said.
Jackson said university graduates are simply being fashioned to work.
“What prepares this student for reflection on the issues in society? This is what I mean by an education. I believe we cannot as a society expect that we are going to have an identification with society, that we are going to have an engagement with the issues in society if we do not educate our young people,” Jackson said.
“If we go the way of listening to the persons who want persons to graduate and to be able to immediately work in a job in the technology field or some other...being able to work with their hands without being able to engage in the issues that affect the quality of life,” he said.
Jackson said power opposes education
“That is what I talk about living from the outside instead of living from within, from reflecting on what is happening within you. This is more in line with the power model of governance because we know that power opposes education. Women know that history very well,” Jackson said.
He said the purpose of education is to create thinkers and not conformists.
“Responsibility of education is not to create conformity because ‘tolerance’ in the motto of this great state is not equal to conformity. It instead is a continuous discourse which utilises the creative intellect to change but progress with stability,” he said.
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