LIBRARIES BECOMING EXTINCT IN A TECHNOLOGICAL AGE

Libraries are portals to all of the world’s knowledge and librarians make sure that knowledge continues to be recorded and saved for the future.  The way of preserving and accessing this information has changed over the years as technology continues to play a vital role in accessing information. While developments in technology have made it easier for students in higher education to access materials for their researches as this can be done virtually, will the digital age mean that libraries are becoming extinct?

Future of Academic Libraries?

Griffith (2015) posits that as information becomes more digitized and omnipresent the space of the library may no longer be needed and asks how can a librarian measure against a  back-drop of increase in limited funding? Simple, libraries have to become creative and face these challenges head on. The challenges are enormous however,Spiro and Henry (2010) and Nelson and Haines (2010) postulates that equally important, and deemed one of the biggest barriers to online resources in universities has been a lack of academic content and when you do find materials for courses they are very pricy “for publishers to set up and maintain infrastructures for both electronic and print books”(Spiro & Henry, 2010).

Although this may be true, we see that funding plays a vital part.In fact, libraries “predate books, and in their modern form, libraries of all kinds – public libraries, research libraries, school libraries” to name a few “typically stand at the heart of the communities they serve, and digitization creates new challenges and opportunities, hence, forcing libraries to take on new roles, and perform traditional roles in new ways”even with funding being a concern.   We dont grow when things are easy

Challenges and Solutions
Of course, librarians have become creative to align themselves with the growing e-resources and the lack of funding among others. Ubogu and Okiy (2011) agrees and states that “the importance of funding in providing quality library service cannot be overemphasized. It is the glue that holds the building, collection and staff together and allows the library to attain its goals. As such, money can be considered the soul of the library. As a result, inadequate funds impede the effectiveness of any library.” Therefore, libraries not only in Jamaica but globally have to dig deep and come up with strategies to stay afloat in this technological age to meet the needs of the users.

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Now, in a third world country like Jamaica the University of the West Indies Libraries remain competitive. Mention must be made of their West Indies and Special Collection, (WISC), (Mona) that has earned several accolades over the years from persons locally and internationally for their unique Caribbean collection which houses-: Rare Books, Manuscripts, West Indian Creative Writings, Microforms, Maps, and Audiovisuals to name a few. This collection is one of their way of remaing competitive – then congratulations are in order. In addition, there is also the Edward Seaga’s Collection,
P.J. Patterson’s Collection and Rex Nettleford’s Collection among other notable gifts. These collections consist of items both in print and digitization and the content is quite valuable and persons globally come to Jamaica to consult these “prized” materials.

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Notably, there are also e-books and e-journals that the library has to acquire regardless that they may also have the printed copy, and these are extremely expensive and take a chunk out of the libraries budget. Another challenge is vendor stipulations whereas libraries cannot buy some books as they would a print and have multiple users as the publisher would not profit so it creates another “roadblock” for academic libraries. Notwithstanding, academic libraries have to be marketable, they have to attract their users no matter the challenges faced.

Also there is the task of sufficient computers and these computers have to be equipped with programs and software that is current. Libraries wrestle with the “longevity of technologies and devise back-up plans before making large investments.” So yes, “libraries are likely to remain important for years to come” and “will still purchase print books even though “space over time is in conflict with space for users” (Renwick & Peltier-Davis, 2007).

users in library

The University of the West Indies (UWI) Library for example, carries several e-books,
e-journals, electronic databases which includes their Mona Online and Research Database (MORD), EBSCOhost Online Research Database, JSTOR, EmeraldinSight, and ProQuest Central to name a few. These are some of the databases that are shared on an interface platform so that students in Jamaica (Open Campus and Mona) and from the sister campuses (Cave Hill in Barbados and St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago) can also have access.The sharing of resources helps to offset some of the costs for all the stakeholders hence, giving students access across disciplines, across campuses in real time. As well, the library at Mona offers several other services to stay abreast of technology and make themselves more marketable for example, students that are visually challenged can still have access using – :

Assistive Technology – Visually Impaired Students’ Technology Assisted Services (VISTAS) was established in 1997. It provides visually challenged students with assistive (adaptive) technologies that aid in their learning process

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Kurzweil – visually impaired users with access to printed and electronic material.

Printed documents (after being scanned) and digital files such as eBooks or email are converted from text to speech and read aloud

Jaws for Windows – This software provides speech technology that works with your computer’s operating system to provide access to popular software applications and the Internet for visually impaired students.

Braille Embosser – This machine converts text to Braille

Victor Reader – This is a sophisticated digital talking book with an audio and mp3 CD player that allows visually impaired students to read from the printed pages.
blind_graduate_212pxAs a result, several students with challenges have been able to leave the University with a degree in higher education. The library created access, equity and equality in a technologically driven time. They prepare these students for life-long learning with the necessary tools. The library should be considered the hub of any university and with this digital explosion over the years they have to be impressive. No wonder libraries have to step forward and embrace tele-education especially since there is a demand for online education (Wright, 2000). Does this make them on the road to extinction? I think not. It’s called reinvention and remaining relevant so that there is equal access. 

Speaking of access, who speaks for the person who cannot afford the online resources or just prefer the book instead of virtual resources? THE LIBRARY!!! Students need options. Some students need someone that is approachable, personable, can ask open-ended questions to assist them in becoming competent and adept to finding their own information – facilitating them to find, analyse and use.

So while the library tries to stay afloat in this technological age which is sometimes too impersonal for a lot of library users, there are some persons who are stuck in the era where books are supreme and their voice must also be heard, their needs must also be met (Sharma, 2012).They want to mark and feel their books, they want to curl up privately and read not thinking about the down time of the Wi-Fi or issues with their smart phone or laptop and just unwind.

Technology plays an “important role in advancing the availability of higher education for the under-represented student populations”, while ensuring “accessibility of web materials” for the physically and visually challenged but what about persons who are not ‘tech savvy,’ where is the equity? Libraries play a vital role even in this world of technology and materials being digitized, and have to cater for diverse users to show equity.Students and faculty need options if they find it difficult to maneuver the databases or catalogue. Furthermore, some students love to sit with a librarian who can give them personalized attention and facilitate their production of the best research papers they can (Peltier-Davis, (2011). So no, there is a place for both the library and technology even amidst the unyielding challenges. Libraries will continue to reinvent themselves to meet the needs of not some of their users, but all their users – both technologically inclined and otherwise.

library competition

References

Griffith, J. (2015, September 2). Emerging trends and the implications for libraries. In The Library and Information Association. Retrieved March 18, 2017, from
https://www.cilip.org.uk/blog/emerging-trends-implications-libraries

Harris, S. (2016). “Trends and issues in Jamaican academic libraries 2010-2016”. New Library  World117(11), 721-745.

https://www.mona.uwi.edu/library/special-students-0

Nelson, M.R. and Haines, E. (2010), “E-books in higher education: are we there yet?”, ECAR Research Bulletin 2, available at: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERB1002.pdf

Peltier-Davis, Cheryl. “Overview of library services in the English-speaking Caribbean –

Management, innovative services and resource sharing.” International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, 2011, https://www.ifla.org/past-wlic/2011/81-davis-en.pdf. Accessed 18 Mar. 2017.

Renwick, S., & Peltier-Davis, C. (Eds.). (2007). Caribbean libraries in the 21st century:      changes, challenges, and choices. Medford, NJ: Information Today Inc.

Sharma, R. N. (2012). Libraries in the early 21st century: An international perspective. Berlin:
De Gruyter Saur.

Spiro, L., & Henry, G. (2010). Can research library be all digital? The idea of order
transforming research collections for 21st century scholarship (pp. 5-80). Washington DC: Council of Libraries and Information Resources.

“The future of libraries in the digital age.” The Ohio State University, 2017, Columbus. Address.

Ubogu, J., & Okiy, R. (2011). Sources of funds in academic libraries in Delta State, Nigeria. Library Philosophy and Practice. Retrieved from University of Nebraska (1522-0222).

Wright, C. (2000). Issues in education and technology: policy guidelines and strategies for
Commonwealth countries
. London, United Kingdom: Commonwealth Secretariat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIBRARIES BECOMING EXTINCT IN A TECHNOLOGICAL AGE

Student Activism in Jamaica: Dead or Alive?

Korea’s Ewha-Park-Choi Scandal

Just last week the president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, was removed from office as the constitutional court voted in favor of an impeachment that was previously set in motion in December of 2016. The impeachment and ruling were rooted in the discovery of a scandal that revealed that Park was involved in string of corrupt activities through her friend and close associate Choi Soon-sil. The Associated Press (2017) explains that Investigations revealed that Choi, who was not a government worker, may have been privy to very sensitive state information and used her connection to the president to pressure businesses into ‘donating’ over $70 million US, some of which was for her personal use, to two non-profit organizations that she controlled. But how was the scandal uncovered? Reports indicate that it all started with student protests at Ewha Womans University, one of South Korea’s most prestigious higher education institutions.

In the summer of 2016, the Associated Press (2017) explains, students at Ewha, protested against the school’s administration to create a new degree programme. The programme was withdrawn from the all-female university, but disgruntled students continued protests, this time to have the president of the school submit her resignation. The persistence of the students led to the revelation that the school was extending favoritism to Choi’s daughter who was enrolled at Ewha. This rippled into an investigation on Choi which ultimately formed into the tsunami that toppled Park’s presidency.

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Although the students at Ewha were praised for their activism, as it was the seed that sprout into uncovering of the national scandal, they were not met with open arms during the times they were protesting. Afterall, who likes protestors to begin with? In fact, the student protestors, who were numbered at about 200, were met by some 1600 officers during one of their demonstrations which took the form of occupying a building. Yet despite the push back, the Ewha Students persisted, and now their university is free of a corrupt president and South Korea is free of a corrupt President Park.

The Golden Age

If one were to take a look at several decades ago, it would be quite clear that student activism has not been something new. In fact it has not been uncommon that student activism would, whether directly or indirectly, shift the foundations of national politics as the students at Ewha did in Korea. There are many documented student protests, some even as early as the “May fourth” protests in China, that took place in 1919 over students disagreement with China granting Shadong Territory to Japan, and led to China refusing to sign the World War One Treaty of Versailles which would have sanctioned the handing over of the territory.

However, the 1960s, and 70s, are considered by some to be the Golden Age of student activism because of the major impact student protests had on their country and the world, and not to mention the brutality and bloodshed, among other challenges, that the student activists had to endure. For example there was the Vietnam protests in the 1966-1970, where approximately 4 million students from 450 different institutions rose up against the Vietnam War and contributed to President Nixon withdrawing the American troops some years later (Finan, 2013; Saucedo, n.d.); also in the 60s, students were key in the spearheading of the civil rights movement in the US and led the fights against segregation through their Student’ Non-Violent Coordination Committee (Gupta, 2016); in France there was the ‘Protests of May’ during 1968 where students who were disgruntled with the outdated nature of  educational system as well as the lack of job opportunities took to the streets to and held week long protests that eventually led to the reformation of the education bill as well as better wages (Mukherjee, 2016); and in 1976, there was the Soweto Uprisings in South Africa where thousands of students left their schools and rallied at the Orlando Stadium as a protest against the Apartheid and would ripple into the fall of the regime and the freedom of Nelson Mandela (Saucedo, n.d; Finan, 2013; Mukherjee, 2016).

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Caribbean students were no strangers to the student activist movement of the 1960s and 70s. For example, Caribbean students at the then Sir George Williams University, now called the Concordia University, held the largest student occupation in Canadian history when they occupied the school’s computer lab from January 29 to February 11 in 1969. Dubbed the Computer Riots or Sir George William Affair, the protest led to more student centered reforms at the university and paved the way for similar reforms in other higher education institutions (the guardian, 2014).

Right in Jamaica, there were also the Walter Rodney Riots of 1968. Westmaas (2008) explains that the riots were in response to Walter Rodney, a Guyanese Pan-Africanist, political activist and scholar who lectured at the then University College of the West Indies (UCWI), being banned from entering the country because of his communist views. The riots in Jamaica inspired similar student protests across the Caribbean Region. Students protested at the UCWI Campuses in Trinidad and Barbados and demanded that the Barbadian and Trinidadian Governments take action against the Jamaican Government. In Guyana some 300 students marched to the Prime Minister’s residence to demand that the Guyanese Government also take action (Westmaas, 2008).

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Student Activism Today

Today student activism is still alive in many countries around the world. For example in the US alone there were approximately 160 protests on college campuses in the 2014 fall semester alone. There have been the student led #BlackLivesMatter walkouts and “die-ins,”  as well as protests on a spectrum of other issues, including high tuition costs, university divestment, and campus sexual assault (Zhou & Green, 2015). Also in North America, approximately 250, 000 students from several student unions protested in Quebec, Canada over hikes in tuition fees in college and forced the government to put a freeze on tuition fees (Mukherjee, 2016). There have also been major protests in countries such as Egypt, Greece, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, India and Mayanmar to name a few (Zhou & Green, 2015).

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However, can it be said that student activism is still alive in Jamaica? Sure, the ‘Golden Age’ of student protesting may have passed with the 60’s and 70s and it is not expected that students would necessarily protest the same way as their predecessors did. However many feel that in Jamaica, the students unlike their counterparts at Ewha, generally lack the political will, strength and concern to take part in ongoing protests to fix the ills in their own institutions.

Despite there being a few protests here and there, and now and again, there have not been protests on the magnitude as there once were or addressing large scale issues that were once addressed. Also, it is felt by many that students across Jamaica are distracted, and in some ways lack a real concern for societal issues that their predecessors had. Think about it, when last has there been a national protest of students? Several questions come to mind when thinking about the current situation: Is it that the students are really distracted or they lack concern or is it that there aren’t any issues worth protesting against? Is it that the world today is ‘A OK’, and students are comfortable and do not feel that the current ills are minor? Or is it that unlike the predecessors, students today are scared, less aggressive and aren’t willing to march in the face of arrests and even death for a cause?

Some are of the opinion protesting across the world has witnessed a rebirth of some sort with the era of social media where the ‘articulate minority’ voice their concerns and air their growls on digital mediums such as Facebook, twitter, Instagram and YouTube. However, some believe that this very ‘rebirth’ is indeed the death of real student activism and have termed social media protests as ‘Slacktivism” because though part of the social justice conversation, social media activism rarely effects change and social media users rarely go the step further to act upon the very issue they were ‘protesting’ about (Robertson, 2014). The use of social media has been a popular medium among the ‘articulate minority’ of Jamaica and many students who want to voice their concerns about society. Yet despite popular outcry by many, the lack of change begs the question about if these persons have taken the next step to participate in intensified action.

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Maybe it is a case where protesting has become outdated in Jamaica and students at Jamaican higher education institutions have found more effective ways of addressing institutional and national issues. Or is it? Who knows. Maybe it is a case where student activism is dead and students in Jamaica need to take a page out of their Ewha counterparts. If Walter Rodney, who was a staunch student activist were alive, he would do what he did back in his day and fuel students to taking more active stances against ills. Maybe he is rolling in his grave today.

 

References

Finan, V. (2013, December 11). A brief history of student protest: From ‘no women at      Cambridge’ in 1897 to ‘cops off campus’ in 2013. Retrieved from   http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/a-brief-history-of-student-protest-from-no-women-at-cambridge-in-1897-to-cops-off-campus-in-2013-8997569.html. Continue reading “Student Activism in Jamaica: Dead or Alive?”

Student Activism in Jamaica: Dead or Alive?

What is the Future of Online Teaching & Learning in Higher Education?

 

a4f871c03554d7d81bed8ab4a1fd06d8In the past, full time employees desirous of pursuing tertiary education had to simply resort to attending classes in the evenings after a hectic work day, or on the weekends. Familial demands and other personal commitments often meant pushing educational advancement to the back-burner. Today, it is much easier and rewarding for individuals to pursue their education not through traditional classroom settings, but through a virtual learning environment.

The University of Edinburgh (2017) define online learning as a way of studying for a locally and internationally recognised qualification without needing to attend classes on campus.  It is aimed at those who wish to study for a postgraduate qualification alongside work or other commitments. Online education is becoming an important long-term strategy for many postsecondary institutions. Given the rapid growth of online education and its importance for postsecondary institutions, it is imperative that institutions of higher education provide quality online programs.

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According to the National Centre for Education Statistics, today’s students are now exposed and live in a technological era in which they are engulfed with an array of mobile technological devices and learning OnlineDegreetools that include, Computers, Smartphones and Tablets and E-readers; interactive audio or videoconferencing tools such as Skype, webcasts, instructional videos via CD-ROMs or DVDs and computer-based systems transmitted through the Internet (Aud, Hussar, & Kena, 2011).  Programmes are delivered in courses that you can complete at times convenient to you.  Online programmes deliver programme content and opportunities to interact with other students in a number of ways such as virtual learning environment, e.g. Moodle, Learn or Blackboard Collaborate,  wikis, blogs, discussion boards and forums, video streaming services, e.g. YouTube or Vimeo, virtual worlds, e.g. Second Life just to name a few. 

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It is no surprise that educational institutions are now utilising these media to reach a wider audience of individuals who are keen on furthering their education.  Globally, higher education utilises online teaching methods to ensure that a wide array of courses are being taught and accessible to individuals worldwide. In response to these changes in enrolment demands, many institutions, and organisations have been working on strategic plans to implement online education. 

At the same time, misconceptions and myths related to the difficulty of teaching and learning online, technologies available to support online instruction, the support and tablet-mobile-desk-640x533compensation of learning opportunities are available for students in a highly competitive technological arena. Almost if not all institutions of higher education have increasingly embraced online education, and the number of students enrolled in distance education programs is rapidly rising. Colleges and universities now recruit high-quality instructors to develop courses that satisfy the educational demands of individuals worldwide. With the cost of higher education rapidly rising and the challenges experienced by students in funding their education, online distance education has now become an attractive prospect for potential students. The needs of online students create challenges for such vision statements and planning documents.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) mainpic

Massive popular online education platforms such as edX, Udemy, Coursera are MOOC’s widely used by individuals worldwide. Here in the Caribbean, we have the University of the West Indies, Open Campus, the online distance education arm of the UWI alongside the three brick and mortar campuses located at Mona, Jamaica, Cave Hill, Barbados, and St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.   The Open Campus offers undergraduate, postgraduate or continuing and professional education programmes and courses that are accessed by individuals across the Caribbean.  Courses are offered in a blended format consisting of either online or face-to-face lectures which are held at local Open Campus Country sites (OCCS) across the region. 

The University of the West Indies Open Campus -Bahamas                                                                                                      

Technology has played and continues to play an important role in thocbahamas_pice development and expansion of online education.   The development of new technology continues to have an impact on learning. While on the one hand, new technology allows schools and instructors to offer learning in new ways, educators nonetheless continue to face limitations imposed by technology, and sometimes the lack of technology. Rovai (2002) emphasized the four interacting components that provides a sense of community within the online learning environment, which are: connectedness, interdependency, socialization, and common goals. The learning process is strengthened and sustainable when institutions help students feel committed and satisfied with their online practices and when they experience a strong sense of community within the learning environment (Tinto, 1993).  Rovai (2002) also posited that a strong feeling of community and camaraderie among students is crucial, not only to increase diligence in coursework, but also to encourage cooperation and commitment among students and help them to achieve their individual goals as students. For students that have a need to communicate with their peers and instructors, they can schedule chat sessions and online group discussions to participate and respond to questions, assignments, problems, and projects in real time (Barr & Miller, 2013) This will reduce isolation in the online learning environment as this is not the case in the familiar face-to-face format of traditional education.

Online education has emerged in all levels of the school environment; vocational institutions and colleges are incorporating online classes at an increasing rate. With advances in technology, clearly we should use the internet as a supplemental tool but with the level of education necessary for us to compete in the world economy, we must conduct due diligence to determine which classes are to be offered at what level and to whom, in order for online learning to be credible. Our education system needs a drastic overhaul for us to remain competitive in the global market. Online learning offers the convenience of time and space, capability of reaching a greater student population, and draws the attention of a new group of digital learners.  Rovai (2002) proposed that instructors, who embrace supportive methodologies, may help students feel connected through a strong sense of community, leading to a productive and successful online experience.

Online education has made great strides in recent years. For starters, more and more institutions of higher learning have introduced or reinforced their online education platforms, the main considerations being cost reduction for students and recruitment expansion in the face of rising competition. As a result, online education has become an increasingly important part of tertiary education, with colleges and universities using world-famous faculty members and professional support teams to promote online courses.
Is online learning the future for higher education? Will universities continue to have an increase in enrolments for online programmes?
  Online learning is an ever-evolving, ever-changing system (Shea-Schultz, Forgarty, 2002). We should wait and see.

 

References

Aud, S., Hussar, W. & Kena, G. (2011). The Condition of Education 2011. Washington, DC:

National Center for Education Statistics, US Department of Education.

Barr, B.A., & Miller, S.F. (2013). Higher Education: The Online Teaching and Learning

Experience. School of Advanced Studies, University of Phoenix.  Retrieved March 11,

2017 from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED543912
Downes, S. (2008). The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On. Half an Hour. Retrieved

March 14, 2017 from http://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2008/11/future-of-online-learning-ten-years-on_16.html

Rovai, A.P. (2002). Building sense of community at a distance. International Review of Research

in Open and Distance Learning.  Retrieved from

http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/79/152.

Shea-Shultz, H., & Fogarty, J. (2002) Online learning today: Strategies that work, San Francisco,

CA: Barrett Koehler. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/79/152.

The University of Edinburgh (2016, June 30). What is online learning? Retrieved from

http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degree-guide/online-learning/about

Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving College: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. (2nd

Ed.) Chicago: University of Chicago, Press.

 

What is the Future of Online Teaching & Learning in Higher Education?

Threat to International Student Mobility


What happens when the ‘borders’ to higher education close?

Times Higher Education (World University Rankings) is one of the most renowned league tables used to rank universities worldwide.  One of the indicators used in judging the top universities is the percentage of international students enrolled.  In the 2016/2017 World Rankings, 15 of the top 20 universities were located in the United States (US), with the number of international students enrolled ranging from 16 to 34 percent.  It dawned on me, that with the advent of the Trump administration, it is likely that higher educational institutions in the United States may experience a downturn in the number of international students who will choose to study in that country during the life span of his presidency.

USABarbedWireThe internet is abuzz with the Executive Order from the White House temporarily banning travelers and refugees from seven (7) Muslim states – Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen from entering the USA (Fischer, 2017; the Guardian, 2017; Ansari, Robertson & Dewan, 2017).  Even, students studying in the US and holders of US green cards who were from these countries and who found themselves outside of the United States at the implementation of the ban, were prohibited entry for days. Those planning to travel were also dissuaded from doing so until the ‘storm’ had passed and the intent of the Administration was clearly articulated.  Thousands of students were left stranded (Fischer, 2017).

The US as a study destination

The number of students who travel to another country to study is on the rise with five million travelling as at 2014 (The University of Oxford, 2015).  The United States receives the largest number of international students yearly, followed by the United Kingdom.

Crybaby Millennials
Crybaby Millennials

According to 2015 data from College Factual from the Department of Homeland Security cited in Stockwell (2017), 23,763 international students hailed from the countries affected by the travel ban, 15,773 of which are pursuing Bachelor degrees or postgraduate degrees in the US.  The greatest number hailing from Iran with 14,981. College Factual estimates that the economic benefit to universities for these Iranian students amounted to over US$700 million.  The United States is one of five countries that benefit from half of the five million students who studied abroad in 2014 (the University of Oxford, 2015).  Can you imagine the billions being made by colleges and universities annually?  What would happen if the ban suddenly expanded to include other countries, such as China and India?  As 1 in 6 international students is Chinese and 53 percent of international students are Asian (the University of Oxford, 2015), the financial fallout would be astronomical.  Universities are, however, fighting back.

Push Back Against the Ban

Universities are crying foul and have sought legal redress to stop President Trump’s Executive Order.  Seventeen (17) universities have legally challenged Trump’s travel ban. The universities argue that “their school missions and influence are “truly global” and the President’s Executive Order threatens “their goals of educating tomorrow’s leaders from around the world” (deHahn, 2017).  Signing an amicus brief were the top eight ivy league schools in the US plus nine other top ranking schools, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that is ranked number one by the Times Higher Education World league charts.  An amicus brief, Dehaun states, was a legal document signed by interested parties not involved in a direct litigation, but allowed to share their stance on a case where they feel a decision could affect them.

trumpjusticeMembers of the US judiciary are also pushing back, rendering the ban unconstitutional, allowing thousands to return to the classroom (Blumenstyk, Najmabadi & Brown, 2017).  On the foreign policy front lines, several countries have publicly denounced the act while some of the affected countries, like Iran and Iraq, are considering taking reciprocal measures to ban US passport holders and in the case of Iraq, the expulsion of US troops from the country (Brinkhurst-Cuff, Chulov & Dehghan, 2017).

What does that mean for us?

How does this affect Jamaica, you might ask? Currently, the travel ban does not pose a direct threat to Jamaicans.  Given the unpredictability of this President, however, the possibility exists that the drastic measures being implemented to ‘take back America’s borders’ may negatively impact us later. Short of the fact that a few hundred students from Jamaica study in the United States, the immediate fear is that the Trump administration may not stop at these seven countries, now six with the revised travel ban.  The Trump campaign has shown itself to be racially biased against minorities, so what is to stop the Administration from targeting other groups. After condoning the rhetoric of the ‘Wall’ and the ‘America First’ banter, millions are now witnessing what that entails, which is contrary to the mantra of ‘the land of the free’. The world is now seeing firsthand what happens when a ‘border’ closes.  Abuse of power against a particular group of people reminiscent of the early days of the Nazi empire.

trump1In its quest to protect ‘the people’, the US travel ban mirrors the persecution of ‘inferior’ groups by the Nazis in their pursuit to purify the Aryan race (Holocaust Encyclopedia, n.d.).  The point of this comparison is that the Nazis did not stop with its first targeted group, homosexuals, who were tortured and murdered; posing as moral crusaders, they then turned their attention to Jews and blacks.  In Trump’s “America First”, the ban may be a preview of what’s to come.

Jamaican visitors and students should expect heightened security and increased scrutiny at ports of entry, clear resultants of the ban.  J1 Work and Travel participants should also anticipate restrictions.  The amended travel ban places a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas to countries affected, but it is possible that visa restrictions may affect us as well.  Patel (2017) states that the political climate in the United States has instilled fear and reluctance among students, with one in three prospective candidates to US based universities indicating that they are less interested in studying there.

But ‘wha drop affa head, can drop pon shoulder.’ Jamaica should seek to garner ‘the spoils’ from this Executive Order.  The University of Oxford (2015) reports that interest to study in the US has been declining among international students, favouring instead countries like Canada and Australia.  ICEF (2015) says that “the nature of competition is shifting, with enrolment more widely distributed among a larger field of destinations, including a growing number of non-English-speaking countries.”  Jamaica should capitalize on this opportunity by ramping up its thrust of attracting more international students to the island, particularly from this affected group.  The Study Jamaica thrust to brand the island as a higher education destination may be the catalyst for breaking into this niche market.  Jamaica is a diverse society comprising all religious faiths and beliefs; a non-discriminatory country.

Changes in the ‘free world’ have ripple effects on the rest of the world.  It is possible that this ‘border’ closure will ricochet on other countries, hopefully in a positive way.  Whatever the future outcome, new emerging markets will continue to influence global student mobility.  The countries – and universities – that will benefit will be the ones that are most responsive – and accommodating.

References

Ansari, A., Robertson, N., & Dewan, A. (2017). World leaders react to Trump’s travel ban. CNN Politics. January 31, 2017. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/30/politics/trump-travel-ban-world-reaction/

Blumenstyk, G., Najmabadi, S. & Brown, S. (2017). Court rebukes Trump’s travel ban, and harm to universities plays a key role. The Chronicle of Higher Education. February 9, 2017. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/article/Court-Rebukes-Trump-s-Travel/239173?cid=RCPACKAGE

Brinkhurst-Cuff, C., Chulov, M. & Dehghan, S. K. (2017). Muslim-majority countries show anger at Trump travel ban. The Guardian. 29 January 2017. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/29/muslim-majority-countries-anger-at-trump-travel-ban

deHahn, P. (2017). 17 Universities file legal challenge to Trump’s travel ban. USAToday. 14 February 2017. Retrieved from http://college.usatoday.com/2017/02/14/17-universities-file-legal-challenge-to-trumps-travel-ban/

Fischer, K. (2017). Trump’s travel ban leaves students stranded – and colleges scrambling to help. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/article/Trump-s-Travel-Ban-Leaves/239039?cid=wcontentgrid_6_3list_6

Holocaust Encyclopedia (n.d.). Persecution of homosexuals in the third reich. Retrieved from https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005261

ICEF (2015). The state of international student mobility in 2015. Retrieved from http://monitor.icef.com/2015/11/the-state-of-international-student-mobility-in-2015/

Patel, V. (2017). Prospective international students show new reluctance to study in the US.  The Chronicles of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/article/Prospective-International/239468

Stockwell, C. (2017). What Trump’s travel ban means for thousands of international students in the US. USAToday. 3 February 2017. Retrieved from http://college.usatoday.com/2017/02/03/trump-travel-ban-international-students/

The Guardian (2017). Muslim-majority countries show anger at Trump travel ban.  January 29, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/29/muslim-majority-countries-anger-at-trump-travel-ban

The University of Oxford (2015). International trends in higher education 2015. Retrieved from https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxford/International%20Trends%20in%20Higher%20Education%202015.pdf

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-2017. Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2017/world-ranking#!/page/0/length/25/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats

Threat to International Student Mobility

FUNDING HIGHER EDUCATION IN JAMAICA BY VENESIA THOMPSON

The demand for higher education in Jamaica is on the rise because education is the main key of social mobility and access to wealth. The numerous complaints are that tertiary education is very expensive and so many qualified and deserving persons are unable to access higher education.

In spite of the scarcity of fiscal revenue in the country, the Government still remains the main source of funding for those who desire post-secondary education.   It is said that there is little hope of an increase in the Government’s ability or willingness to fund tertiary education (The Gleaner, 2011). However, according CaPRI (2009), the resources needed to improve the education system will have to be generated, not through new cash, but through re-allocation. This has renewed calls for a re-examination of the funding model for tertiary education – a re-examination which takes account of the needs of students at the poorer households, the increase in the demand for tertiary education, and the country’s long-term and current fiscal challenges (CaPRI, 2009).

THE HISTORY OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN JAMAICA

Traditionally, the subsidy for higher education in Jamaica has been skewed heavily towards the University of the West Indies (UWI), which was operating as monopoly on research and education at that level (CaPRI, 2009).   The University of the West Indies (UWI) was established in 1948 and sole purpose was to train a class of leaders, policy-makers makers and professionals who could lead the nation into its independence.  Similarly, the university was commissioned to carry out research needed to tackle the challenges posed to the country’s development and generate solutions that would enhance economic growth. Despite the many criticism,  UWI Mona’s half century history was an excellent one and often applauded for a good deal of the credit for Jamaica’s strong developmental performance in the areas of health, owing the role played by its medical school.

However, in recent years, the materialisation of other institutions of higher learning, the increasing globalisation of tertiary education, and a sense that the university has been underperforming – whether in a perceived failure on the part of some employers to provide them with graduates with the skills they seek; or whether due to an apparent stagnation in its research productivity – has led many to call for a reconsideration of the funding model that has prevailed over the last couple of generations. Some believe that a more competitive and diversified marketplace for higher education might lead to an improvement in the overall product (CaPRI, 2009).

THE RATIONALE FOR PUBLIC SPENDING ON TERTIARY EDUCATION

Government subsidy of higher education is strongly recommended to provide equity or equality of opportunity.   According to Tilak, (1995) higher education is considered to be a better and more effective instrument for ensuring equity and social justice than many other direct measures. Agarwal, (2006) agreed with Tilak that a higher level of education has contributed towards the inculcation of human values and also towards building democratic civil societies. That is why Rani, (2002) saw the role of the government and public support vitally important, especially in the wake of globalisation such that higher education can realise its social, educational and institutional missions. On this premise, CaPRI, (2009) pointed out that economic and social are the two goals that served by the subsidy to tertiary education.

Economically:

Education spending from economical perspective produces higher grown rates. Likewise, not only these universities produce graduates, but the research will build Jamaica’s technical aptitude and have high externalities that cannot be captured in user fees.  Tilak, (2004) added that higher education is a long term investment by the government that society will gain through the increased productivity of the labour force.  Mishan (1969) also observed, “Higher education is an investment and will pay for itself; and will increase the earnings of the beneficiary students and the government will recover its costs through consequent higher tax receipts.”

Socially:

The argument for public funding of tertiary education is quite straightforward. The cost for higher education will always remain high because of its capital intensive nature. Unfortunately, a market-based approach thus runs the risk of excluding less prosperous citizens who may not be able to contribute efficiently towards national development.  Investment in higher education is very significant for a society – especially one like Jamaica, which has a history of severe income inequality to narrow the class gap.

PARADIGM SHIFT IN HIGHER EDUCATION

There is a paradigm shift in development all over. Many countries especially developing countries as Jamaica are in transition by becoming more neo-liberal where private sector now holds centre-stage because they own greater part of the market.   It is argued increasingly nowadays that it is not the government, but the market that can do everything for everybody. This philosophy has entered the educational system as well, more strongly the higher education sector. Respectively, a reduced role of the State in higher education, promoted as an economically and educationally efficient proposal and it is argued that the role of the government should be confined broadly to the formulation of a coherent policy framework (World Bank, 1994).   According to   Bottery, (1992) the creeping in of a market philosophy into higher education, which is much more ingrained in the American psyche, has come as something of a culture shock not only to the most people in developing countries, but also to several European countries, including the United Kingdom and has resulted in several kinds of tensions and conflicts. Privatisation is being pursued in higher education as a very effective measure of improving efficiency and as an important measure of easing financial crisis.

IS THE EXISTING MODEL SOCIALLY PROGRESSIVE?

 

It is said that direct subsidies to higher education is that it gives children from poor homes the opportunity to social mobility. However, CaPri, (2009) rebut and emphasised that such statement is not empirically proven. While the self-perception of university students in just about any society is that they come from relatively modest backgrounds, in fact, in objective terms the general rule is the opposite. In this regard, Jamaica is no exception. One will assume that the subset of students who borrow money from the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB) will be among the less prosperous of those enrolled in tertiary institutions.

Data from the SLB revealed that, in 2007, only 29% of recipients came from low-income homes (defined as having a weekly income under $7,500 per capita). Over half came from high-income (over $20,000/week) or high middle-income homes.

In short, the average student in tertiary education in Jamaica is above-average in comparison to the per capita earnings of most Jamaicans. He or she is likely to go on to earn more than the average person who does not or cannot gain access to higher education. And yet, tales abound of students who must forego opportunities at higher education, or who suffer nutritional disorders due to the sacrifices they must make to attend university. These are not apocryphal. They point to a paradox: the Jamaican system of subsidising university fees indiscriminately, results in a situation in which most get more assistance than they need, whilst those who really need it do not get enough (CaPri, 2009).

                                                                                                                      

IS THE JAMAICAN ECONOMY BENEFITING FROM ITS INVESTMENT IN TERTIARY EDUCATION?

I am happy to express that graduates from higher education has a tremendous turnover, but it is quite unfortunate that benefits derived is next to nought. There is a chronic problem of brain-drain in the Caribbean.  Moreover, as it regards higher rate of emigration of tertiary educated graduates, Jamaica is near the top of the table.  It is revealed that four-fifths of Jamaica’s university graduates leave the country to live and work in Canada, the United States or to a lesser degree, Britain (CaPri, 2009).   A recent study by the World Bank found evidence to suggest that roughly 85 per cent of Jamaica’s tertiary-level graduates migrate; Jamaica has the second highest incident of brain drain in the world (Haughton, 2013). 

Most recently, the Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton (2017) has lamented the loss of nurses in the health sector and said the migration of nurses from the island is creating a crisis in the delivery of health services. He expressed that this brain-drain has significantly crippled the delivery of certain health care services and has had a dramatic effect on the overall quality of health care and that the shortage of nurse was expected to triple to over 10,000 with 13 years.

AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH TO FUND TERTIARY EDUCATION

According to CaPRI’s 2009 report – an achievable way of reconciling these competing imperatives is with a funding model that separates teaching from research. Secondly, shift the burden of the spending for teaching to the principal consumers, the students, in a fashion that improves access and expands higher education.   It is known that research has external effects that benefit, not only the recipient of the education, but the society by extension.  Hence, the Government has an interest in promoting as much of it as possible.  This could be done, not by directly funding tertiary education, but by making grants available on a competitive basis to researchers and the institutions at which they work.

In spite of the adverse effects brain drain has on Jamaica, it can be seen in positive light opined CaPRI’s (2009).   For the this model to function effectively, it would be imperative for the government to create a credit bureau other than SLB.  Upon graduation, students who migrate prior to paying off would then assume the full cost of their loan, and default rates would presumably be low: university graduates who migrate would be highly likely to be legitimate migrants therefore with low propensity to default. Their loan repayments would then provide future revenue which the government could use to expand its loan programme in order for students of humble backgrounds to effectively and possible benefit free university education.

The third imperative derives from the realisation that the future growth of the Jamaican economy depends on industries that are knowledge intensive. Therefore, the labour force must see the need of an increase in tertiary-level educated persons. Cutting public funding for tertiary education is likely to impact this goal deleteriously. Besides, a wholly privately funded higher education system is not the best way forward as this will risk marginalising Jamaicans from poorer class who have made it to the tertiary education through hard work and talent.  CaPRI 2009 continued that the Government could provide full loans to students for their education, but more generous than the existing regime.  This can be achieved through its own loan bureau, or through guaranteeing loans provided by private banks, in which the government would up-front the cost of  the student education, paying all interest for duration of the student is in school (including post-graduate studies), added to the short transitional period in which the candidate is seeking employment.

The fourth alternative approach recommended by Prime Minister Holness (education minister from 2007 to 2010) – for the establishment of a national education savings plan whereby the Government matches the savings that go towards paying for university and college; Also, a programme that will allow parents to set up an account where their contribution would be matched by the Government’s contribution (Douglas, 2012).

Most recently, the Minister of Finance, Hon. Audley Shaw declared in the   2017/2018 Budget Debate that there will be a reduction in interest rates on loans from SLB for selected areas of study (Patterson, 2017).  In addition, ‘Pay As Study’ loan will be lowered, and for postgraduate loans also. This will give leverage to more persons to access higher education.

FUNDING IS THE SOLUTION FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

In order for Jamaica to become a knowledge-intensive economy, there is an urgent need to expand its pool of university graduates. It is not an option of narrowing, but government policy should be geared towards widening the group of university graduates. As we are aware of the current operation of financial markets in Jamaica, in which loans must generally be secured, we need to bear in mind that privately-funded higher education system would risk vilify those Jamaicans who come from humble backgrounds only made it to the university by effort of their talent and hard work. It is quite unfortunate for our society when bright young minds loaded with the potential of being world-renowned researchers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, are inhibited by financial costs. Tertiary education has gone back to the days where only the rich and elite can afford this luxury.

Of a fact, academics are not meant for everyone, but those who have the proficiency must be given a fair chance to be educated. Tertiary education is a major contributor to national progression; therefore more investors must be encouraged to invest in higher education in order to widen the social mobility and intellectual capital of Jamaica.     Besides, teaching in higher education institutions is only one of the services; the government maintains a strong interest in the area of research, which is crucial to the nation’s cultural well-being that promotes economic competitiveness, and policy formulation.   As defined in the constitution, no Jamaican child seeking to access education should in any way be discriminated against, barred from or denied access to education.

References:

 Agarwal, P. (2006). Higher education in India: The need for change. Working Paper No. 180.

New Delhi: Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from http://www.icrier.org/pdf/icrier_wp180_higher_ education_in_india_.pdf

Barrett C. (2008). Youth information centre: Financing tertiary education.

http://www.youthjamaica.com/content/financing-tertiary-education-0

Also posted on: http://themindofawonderer.blogspot.com/2014/10/financing-tertairy-education-in-jamaica.html

Bottery, M. (1992). The ethics of educational management.  London: Cassell.

Capri Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI)(2009). Funding higher education in

Jamaica. http://www.capricaribbean.com/sites/default/files/public/documents/briefing_paper/funding_tertiary_education_in_jamaica.pdf

 Douglas, L. (2012, October 12). Creative ways needed to fund tertiary education —                 Holness   Jamaica Observer

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Creative-ways-needed-to-fund-tertiary-education—Holness_12733085

Haughton, A. (2013, May 29). A look at jamaica’s brain drain. The Gleaner

Laing  L. (2014,  August 19). Time to explore alternative funding for tertiary education. Jamaica Observer.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Time-to-explore-alternative-funding-for-tertiary-education_17373084

Mishsra, Ramesh (1997) in R Boyer and D Drache, eds.: States against markets: the limits of globalization. London/New York: Routledge.

Patterson C. (2017, March 10). Minister shaw announces reduction in interests rates on slb loans  Jamaica Information Service

http://jis.gov.jm/minister-shaw-announces-reduction-interests-rates-slb-loans/

Rani, G. (2002). Financing higher education in India in the post-reform period: Focus on access and equity. Occasional Paper No. 31. New Delhi: National University of Educational Planning and Administration

The Gleaner, (2011, December 18) Rethinking the funding of tertiary education

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20111218/news/news4.html

Tilak, J.B.G., (2004). Higher education between the state and the market. National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi 110016, India

Tilak, J.B.G. (1995). Funding higher education in India. Economic and Political Weekly, 30(9), 426–429

Tufton, C. (2017, January 26). Migration of nurses creating health care crisis — Tufton. Jamaica Observer

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Migration-of-nurses-creating-health-crisis—Tufton

.

 

 

FUNDING HIGHER EDUCATION IN JAMAICA BY VENESIA THOMPSON

Developing Digital Literacy: Supporting technology-enhanced learning in higher education

fb-reactions-mobile

This morning you were perhaps awoken by the sound of your smartphone’s alarm blazing menacingly. You reached over to where your device was laying on the nightstand, silenced it, then spent a few minutes mechanically scrolling through your Facebook news feed and responding to WhatsApp messages. Every single day we employ our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and the like, with the objective of garnering knowledge about the world around us. In this modern era, it is evident that technology plays a functional role in all societies, and, more often than not, its use is triggered by personal need for information. Engaging in this type of activity brands today’s youth as digital natives (Levy, 2016), but this does not necessarily equate to them being digitally literate. Since technology is always evolving, it can be realistically hypothesized that it will continue to be a dominant feature of education in the future. On this note, can university students be academically successful without being digitally literate? If not, how can students’ digital literacy be developed to support technology-enhanced learning in tertiary institutions?

digital literacy

Digitial Literacy Explained

Though there is no universal consensus on the definition for digital literacy, there exist several proposed explanations which seem to fall into either of two categories. The first focuses on users only as consumers of digital information, while the other concentrates on users as both consumer and creator of content.

An early example of the former is noticed in Gilster’s (1997) explanation of digital literacy as “the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers”.  This definition may have been suitable during that time, because technology was predominantly used in business settings, and not so much in people’s personal lives. So, once they were able to perform simple tasks using technology (e.g. printing a document), they would be considered digitally literate. On the contrary, many of today’s tertiary learners were introduced to technology primarily in a way that would entertain them and allow them to communicate socially (Ventimiglia and Pullman, 2016). They were raised in an environment driven by technology, and are thus naturally able to use digital tools (Alexander, Adams and Cummings, 2016). digital literacy2Unfortunately, this only creates an illusion that they are digitally literate, and does not mean that they are confident users of same in educational contexts (Alexander, Adams, Cummings, 2016; Levy, 2016).

Possessing digital literacy far supersedes merely being digital natives. For example, at the tertiary level, students are expected to be able to access educational resources via course containers, interact with their lecturers and peers through discussion boards, and conduct meaningful research using online search engines or digital databases. It requires that students are able to utilize the various technologies in the appropriate manner for a given context, so as to “find, evaluate, create, and communicate information” (Alexander, Adams, Cummings, 2016). This requires that they are competent in using both their technical and critical thinking skills in order to achieve this outcome. A digitally literate student is then able to, for instance, “critically evaluate information encountered on the web” (Alexander, Adams, Cummins, 2016).

So why does it matter?

fake newsFollowing Donald Trump’s success in the US presidential election, there was quite a bit of buzz regarding fake news and how social media sites were contributing to the circulation of it (Seargeant and Tagg, 2016). In fact, Adams, Cummins, Davis, Freeman, Hall and Ananthanarayanan (2017) reveal that students at the undergraduate level struggle with determining the validity of the information shared via such platforms. Seargeant and Tagg (2016) advocate that higher education (HE) institutions should be held responsible for facilitating the development of the digital literacy of their students, so that they may become more critically engaged citizens existing in a digital sphere. Such development could equip students with the practices which would contribute to their success in the academic arena.

Building digital literacy in higher ed

Cultivating digital literacy was reported to be one of the six notableunder-construction-flashing-barracade-animation challenges impeding the use of technology in higher education for this calendar year (Elemes, 2017). This is so, since producing digitally literate graduates requires that HE leaders enforce digital literacy practices right across the curriculum (Adams et al., 2017).). This would equip students to discover and assess information online, perceive issues from a digital point-of-view, mature into self-directed learners, and quickly grasp an understanding of new technology and software (Ventimiglia and Pullman). One strategy for effecting digital literacy practices could be through collaboration between faculty and campus libraries as it relates to curriculum design (Alexander et. al, 2016). Though such libraries have always been instrumental in supporting universities, it is suggested that they can play an even greater role in developing students’ digital literacy skills (Alexander et. al). Instead of putting on occasional digital literacy sessions, the library could become more deeply involved in the design of curricula to facilitate development of related competencies on an ongoing basis. Faculty and the libraries could decide on the set of targeted competencies that they wish for each student to have had developed upon completion of each course.

Enabling blended learning

blended learning

The MEd in Early Childhood Education is just one of several blended learning programmes scheduled to begin by September 2017 at the University of the West Indies. Blended learning is one mode of instruction, which has gained recognition with the advancement of digital technology. It involves both an online and face-to-face component in learning and teaching, and can be beneficial in combatting some of the challenges presented in the brick-and-mortar classroom (eg. convenience of learning anytime and anywhere). A recent study revealed that successful learning in such a setting requires that learners are digitally literate so that they may adapt well to the unconventional learning environment (Tang and Chaw, 2016).

Now for a quick recap…

Possessing basic literacy skills has been an essential facet of the human existence for ages, therefore it would be frustrating to live in today’s fast-paced world without being able to read and write. In the same way, it would be challenging for students to enjoy the vast possibilities of technology, within the educational context, without being able to use it to efficiently manage the information available at their fingertips. It is imperative that higher education institutions put university-wide practices in place for advancing students’ digital literacy. This way, they will be well-equipped with the know-how that will heighten their potential of experiencing academic success. The development of all related competencies could allow for the employment of learning models which are either enhanced or entirely driven by technology. When these are the sort of graduates produced by universities, what more could employers ask for?


Written by Xavaunik Brown-Clarke, MA Teaching Student at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus

References

Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Freeman, A., Hall Giesinger, C., and Ananthanarayanan, V. (2017) NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Alexander, B. Adams Becker, S., and Cummins, M. (2016). Digital Literacy: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief. Volume 3.3., October 2016. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Elmes, J. (2017, February 16). Six significant challenges for technology in higher education in 2017. Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/six-significant-challenges-technology-higher-education-2017

Gilster, P. (1997). Digital literacy. New York: Wiley Computer Publications.

Levy, L. (2016, May 2). 11 Digital literacy myths, debunked. Retrieved from https://rossieronline.usc.edu/blog/digital-literacy-myths/

Seargeant, P., and Tagg, C. (2016, December 29). Fake news: the solution is education, not regulation. Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/blog/fake-news-solution-education-not-regulation

Tang, C. M., and Chaw, L. Y. (2016).  Digital Literacy: A Prerequisite for Effective Learning in a Blended Learning Environment? The Electronic Journal of e-Learning , 14. Retrieved from http://www.ejel.org/volume14/issue1

Ventimiglia, P., and Pullman, G. (2016, March 7). From written to digital: the new literacy. Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2016/3/from-written-to-digital-the-new-literacy

Developing Digital Literacy: Supporting technology-enhanced learning in higher education

Rapid Migration Of Our Best Teachers From Jamaica

The Jamaican government invests highly in education and teacher training, paying approximately two thirds or 65% of the cost in subsidy for teacher training. This investment is made based on the promise that there will be a rapid turnover when teachers complete training and enter the work force. They will also be well equip and effective to be able to contribute towards nation building.  However, the continuous increase in teacher migration is threatening to derail the intended goal of this investment. (International organization for migration (I.O.M 2010).

There are a number of Jamaican teachers who feel that the present system does not sufficiently satisfy their needs (self actualization, social) and opt to seek employment overseas where they perceive that they will be in a better position to satisfy their needs. Jamaica, like many other developing countries continues to lose a significant number of its most experienced teachers and sometimes teachers in critical subject areas like Mathematics and Science to external migration. (I.O.M, 2010).

interview

According to the planning Institute of Jamaica, ‘over the past 20 years Jamaica has lost 54, 288 highly trained professional workers to external migration.’ As the country grapples with finding a solution to this problem its investment return is being reaped by foreign countries (PIOJ, 2010). In reference to this dilemma, Ronald Thwaites, the former Minister of Education stated that “there will have to be a revision and reactivation of protocol regulating the recruitment of Jamaican teachers by overseas recruiters” (The Jamaica Teachers Association, 2016). There is a general recognition that Jamaican teachers are overseas on a large scale. Stakeholders are convinced that it is having a devastating effect on the nation’s children. In (2015) alone, the island lost 494 Mathematics and Science teachers. (The Jamaica Teachers Association, 2016).

The main reason for teacher migration is the huge wage difference. For example in England teachers are paid 2.7 times more than what they are paid in Jamaica (Appleton, Morgan& sives 2006). The governments of developing countries feel threatened by developed countries because it is not possible to be competitive by matching the salary received by migrants in the host countries (Appleton et al, 2006).

Migration of teachers from Jamaica is a growing trend. The primary reason identified is lack of improved salary. It is fundamental therefore in redressing this issue. The minister of education Ruel Reid stated that a majority of teachers accepted overseas job mainly because the salaries are more attractive. He explored incentives as a way of stemming the flow of teachers (Saunders 2016). Practical incentives may be an option to tackle this problem however; how will these incentives be allocated in an equitable way? What is the message to the teachers who will not be getting an incentive? These are questions that need to be addressed quickly hence; the problem of migration will continue to haunt our country educational and economic growth.

pound currency

The reasons for external migration differ from one individual to the next. Teachers migrate in order to better satisfy their needs. This maybe basic needs or need for career advancement. While having several benefits, immigration places a significant amount of psychological stress on Jamaicans who are separated from their families. The stress becomes more significant when there are children involved. (Morrison, Steele& Henry, 2015)

(From this house) LI House.jpg      (To this house after migration)HI House

It was recently mentioned by the prime minister of Jamaica, The most honorable Andrew Holness that teachers are going to start contributing 5% of their salary towards their pension with effect on April 1, 2017.  This is seen as a push factor for teacher migration in Jamaica. Most recently 200 of the country’s best teachers of technology have taken up offers with attractive overseas employers.  (The Gleaner 2017). Interviews with some of these teachers revealed that among the chief reason for migrating is the fear of having to contribute 5% of their already measly salary to pension reform. The education minister Senator Ruel Reid was adamant of the fact that teachers are loosing their patriotism. However, he admitted that teacher migration cannot be futile unless there is a notable increase in teacher salary (The Gleaner 2017).

Pension

During an interview one teacher explained that the salary is not the only problem, she argued that parents and administrators alike are of the view that teachers are “miracle workers”. “Parents fail to make meaningful contributions to the lives of their children, yet they blame teachers for students’ failures”. Administrators on the other hand are nothing but task masters. One teacher is burdened with the responsibility of teaching 12 classes with an average of 40 students in each class. Furthermore lesson plans must be ready every Monday morning; grades must be entered on the system just to name a few of our responsibilities. She further added “we can’t make blood out of stone” and we “can’t squeeze milk from coffee”. (The Gleaner 2017)

Stressed-Teacher

I’m in total agreement that teachers should migrate to “greener grass”, land of better opportunities. “There is too much pressure on the donkey back”. The ministry of education wants to get results yet they don’t want to pay the teachers well. Why should teachers stay here and burden themselves working like slaves and at the end when they retire they don’t own a house, a car, they don’t have much in savings and the pension is not good. Does this make sense? No. They can go to other countries to do the same job and achieve all their goals so why not take up the opportunity. I have heard success stories from migrants; they explain how beneficial the move is to their family back home who benefit from improving their standard of living as a result of remittance.  There is also data showing that areas in developing countries that have greater remittance benefit emerge out of poverty at a faster rate than other areas (Appleton et al, 2006). Teachers benefit enormously, both financially and in terms of opportunity to develop professionally. However; it takes a will of steel for teachers to successfully integrate into teaching in a foreign country in a different school and a different social culture. Migration does more positive than negative to both teachers and the economy. Teachers have a stronger earning potential however; they send their income to their home country which in turn helps to grow the economy.

References

Appleton, S. Morgan, W.John. Sives, A (2006) Should teacher stay at home? The impact of

International teacher mobility. Journal of International Development. 18771-

786 Retrieved from: WWW.interscience. Wiley.com D.O.I 10, 100/ jid. 13.13

Morrison. S. Steele.  & Henry. L (2015). Recommendation for counselors working with

Jamaica Immigrant families and children, American Counsellors Association: vista online

The Gleaner (2017) “Teacher Migration Disturbing the Education Minister” Vol. 178 no.10

Wednesday February 15, 2017

The Jamaica Teachers Association (2016) “Recruiters exploiting Jamaica’s weakness to entice   teachers to migrate”. Retrieved from http: www. Jta.org. jm/article/recruiters- exploiting.

Thomas Hope, P- Knight, P Noel,C. (2010) Planning Institute of Jamaica “Migration in Jamaica”

A country profile (2010) Pub: International Organization for Migration (I.O.M)

Switzerland. Retrieved from www.pioj.gov.jm/portals/O/ social…/iom

Saunders A (2016) “Maths teachers leaving for jobs overseas. The Jamaica observer. Retrieved

from http: www.jamaicaobserver.com/news Maths-teachers  leaving-for jobs-

overseas- 71170

Rapid Migration Of Our Best Teachers From Jamaica