Recruitment of top Jamaican students abroad challenges nation’s development

December 23, 2023  -Jamaica’s former leader of the opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips, has highlighted the migration of Jamaica’s brightest young minds to foreign universities directly from high school, impacting the nation’s invaluable human resources.

This call to action comes amid mounting global challenges, including climate change, escalating global conflicts, and the resurgence of authoritarian and racist ideologies in Europe and the United States.

Dr. Phillips, a figure in Jamaican politics, called for a comprehensive discussion centered around the role of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica’s development.

Dr. Phillips asserted, “The time has come for us to re-examine the nature of the social contract between the society and the University of the West Indies. This process must of necessity be led by the university but requires the deliberate engagement of all stakeholders in the various social sectors of the country.”

Dr. Phillips, with a distinguished career spanning more than three decades and holding multiple cabinet positions, was speaking at a special event held on Thursday, December 13, on the university campus.

The occasion marked the renaming of a building in honor of former Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Sir Kenneth Hall.

In his address, Dr. Phillips highlighted a significant shift in Jamaica’s educational landscape over the past two decades. Notably, there are now more than 20 degree-granting institutions in the country offering professional certifications.

The exodus of Jamaica’s finest minds

Dr. Phillips posed the question, “What is the significance that an increasing number of our best students are being recruited straight from high school to foreign campuses…This does have implications for a sense of national identity and our vision of ourselves as a country as some of our best students get sloughed off to other climes, many of whom never return.”

Remembering Professor Sir Kenneth Hall’s impact

While expressing these concerns, Dr. Phillips acknowledged Professor Sir Kenneth Hall’s remarkable contributions to the University of the West Indies.

Professor Hall is celebrated for introducing a philosophy of student-centeredness that has deeply influenced the university’s operations.

Beginning his journey at the UWI Mona campus in 1966 as a history student, Sir Kenneth’s career encompassed roles as Deputy General Secretary of CARICOM before returning to serve as Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal for a decade.

Professor Hall’s legacy extends beyond his philosophy, as he oversaw the most extensive infrastructure expansion in UWI’s history throughout the region.

Additionally, he played a pivotal role in creating several vital institutions at the Mona campus, modernizing its administrative structure, and introducing the annual research day, fostering a culture of academic excellence. His leadership also coincided with a substantial increase in the student population at Mona.

Furthermore, Professor Hall’s dedication to education and public service led him to become Jamaica’s fifth Governor General in 1996, further solidifying his impact on the nation.

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