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Jamaica Foundation For Lifelong Learning

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jamaica_foundation_for_lifelong_learningJamaica Foundation For Lifelong Learning

by Venesha Johnson |Associate Writer

Literacy levels are a key component of any society, including here in Jamaica. We currently have a basic literacy rate of 88.1%, which in hindsight sounds great right?

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Well, the 2015 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Country Profile of Jamaica states that over 161,000 men and nearly 74,000 women over the age of 15 lack basic reading and writing skills.

According to the Jamaica Education Transformation Commission (JETC) report, presided over by Professor Orlando Patterson, the majority of primary school pupils had very low reading and writing skills.

The 2019 Primary Exit Profile (PEP) assessment, according to the JETC, showed that 33% of children could not read or could only read very slowly; 56% of students could not write or could only write very slowly; and 58% of students could not discover information on a topic with difficulty or at all.

So what are we doing about it? This is where the Jamaica Foundation of Lifelong Learning (Previously known as JAMAL) comes in.

The JFLL operates under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education, with a clear-cut mission—to establish a culture of lifelong learning that empowers individuals and contributes to national development.

Imagine a Jamaica where every citizen is a perpetual learner, a knowledge-based adult population taking responsibility for their lives and actively shaping the country's social, moral, and economic development. I reckon that we wouldn’t be facing half the issues we are today as a society.

Functioning as both an executor of adult and youth learning initiatives and a linchpin in the national drive towards education for all, the JFLL is a cornerstone of Jamaica's Vision 2030 goals.

From basic literacy to the secondary level, the JFLL doesn't just cover the spectrum of education; it orchestrates it, recognizing the importance of embracing technology through courses in computer applications.

The JFLL's reach extends across 30 Adult Education Centers (AECs) island-wide, as accessibility is key for this to work. Yet, the JFLL isn't a lone ranger—it collaborates with civic and religious organizations, fostering partnerships with over 100 volunteer or independent AECs.

More than 150 Jamaican volunteers are the backbone of this effort, embodying the spirit of community-driven education.

Lifelong Learning: Why It Matters in Jamaica?

Some believe that our literacy struggles stem from a legacy that has been passed down through slavery that, try as we might, we have not been able to overcome. There is still some amount of stagnation.

Lifelong learning is the antidote to stagnation; it's the belief that education is a lifelong journey, not a one-time event. In a Jamaican context, this philosophy aligns seamlessly with Vision 2030, propelling individuals towards personal and national growth.

Lifelong learning isn't just a buzzword; it's a catalyst for societal evolution. It empowers individuals to continually upgrade their skills, adapt to changing technologies, and contribute meaningfully to societal development. This isn't just a Jamaican agenda; it's a global movement, and the JFLL is at the forefront, steering Jamaica towards the UNESCO goal of Education for All.

Beyond being educators, the JFLL plays a pivotal role as a policy advisor to the Ministry of Education. Their insights shape adult education and literacy components, influencing the strategic direction of our educational system. But it doesn't stop there; Jamaica has embraced the Belem Framework for Action, signalling a commitment to actions and policies that elevate the educational status of its citizens.

In practical terms, this commitment translates into tangible steps, with Jamaica establishing monitoring systems and procedures to fulfil the promises laid out in the framework. The JFLL isn't just signing documents; it's spearheading initiatives to turn commitments into impactful educational outcomes.

In essence, the JFLL is a juggernaut in the lifelong learning arena, seamlessly integrating education into the fabric of Jamaican society. Lifelong learning isn't just a concept here; it's a lifestyle, a mindset, and a powerful force propelling Jamaica towards a future of boundless possibilities.

The foundation has been laid, it is now up to us to take advantage of it and steer those who are in need, in its direction. Maybe then, Vision 2030 will become a reality.

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References & Sources For Jamaica Foundation For Lifelong Learning

  1. The Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (no date) Jamaica Information Service. Available at: https://jis.gov.jm/government/agencies/the-jamaican-foundation-for-lifelong-learning/ (Accessed: 08 December 2023).
  2. Peter Espeut: Why is our literacy rate so low? (2023) Commentary | Jamaica Gleaner. Available at: https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20230120/peter-espeut-why-our-literacy-rate-so-low (Accessed: 08 December 2023).
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