Margaret Campbell, Principal of St. George's College and Reggae Math Foundation Advisory Board Member, and I were recently on the #JadeRadioNetwork Radio Show discussing issues related to math education in Jamaica. Mathematics is the foundation for many other careers and without math, the gate to those careers and often high incomes are closed. This is important because the economy of Jamaica and other countries will need those careers. If Jamaicans do not learn math properly and accurately, they will not be able to build bridges and roads, etc. and will have to hire people at a premium from overseas, probably going further into debt as we will lack the income to pay for our desire for decent infrastructure. What types of jobs will the majority of Jamaicans be able to perform and what will be the implication for our tax base and the services that the government can provide without going further into debt.
In 10 years, the standard of living of most Jamaicans will be directly related to our investment in EDUCATION of youth NOW. Whether we are struggling to fund education, decent health care for everyone, fix roads, give compensation to farmers after flood rains, fund athletes for a variety of sports without doing crowdfunding, and more in the future, will depend on what we do NOW. Everyone with any capacity to assist children learning to read, write, and do math, needs to step forward. Stepping up in 5 or 10 years will be too late for the world we need to be prepared for within the next 5 to 10 years.
There are opportunities now in technological/virtual services that do not require persons to be in the same country as the customer. Some of these services are being learned very rapidly by interested high school students in the U.S. With similar technology access and a solid foundation in education, our very own high school students can be trained to take advantage and earn an income. This opportunity means that if we invest in the education of our people, we will have prepared ourselves to participate in an economy that can take us places we never imagined including having higher incomes for the average Jamaican and more taxes to create a Jamaica that everyone wants to live in.
This opportunity to lift ourselves out of poverty in a short period of time hasn't been around since the 60s and if we wait to invest in education, while the rest of the world is enjoying great health care, luxurious standards of living, great infrastructure, low crime rates, we will be as we were, wondering why the government doesn't fix the roads, why employees cannot do basic things, and why the service in the fast food restaurant is so lax.
Dr. Linda Bailey-McWeeney is the Executive Director of Reggae Math Foundation, an economist, and an educator. She has been an Assistant Professor at Baruch College, City University of New York and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Economics at College of Staten Island, City University of New York, Yeshiva University, and Wagner College. She has a Ph.D. in Economics from Michigan State University.