Ex PM says education vital for economic growth

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Former Prime Minister and newly installed Chancellor of the University of Technology (UTech), Edward Seaga, says that Jamaica’s economic and social advancement depends on education which, he says, “remains the only substantial base for new growth”.

“If we want more good news on the job front then we must make more investment in education. Education must be a tool for learning and earning,” said Seaga, noting that education can create wealth, uplift the poor, and ensure equal rights and justice.

Seaga made his comments at his installation ceremony last week at UTech’s campus in Kingston, where he was also conferred with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters.

Noting the vital role of universities in job creation and social transformation, Seaga called for these institutions to be incentivized to strengthen their task in these areas.

“It is the institutions on which our future will depend to transform hopelessness to hopefulness, it is the powerhouse of intellectual energy, the bank of human resources, and the soul of the society,” he said.

Seaga noted that university graduates “can scale the wall of social exclusion, raise their own status in the society (as they become) earners of higher incomes through academic achievement”.

Likening universities to factories, which create jobs, Seaga said it cost less to finance the education of a university graduate on the average, than it does to create most manufacturing jobs.

Seaga said that universities require no cost to foreign exchange to provide raw materials and capital goods, but they earn foreign exchange by producing foreign exchange earners through remittances.

“So, why not think out of the box? Consider the universities to be factories, rather than a constraint, to reduce the wasted human resources of the country. Incentivize them,” he urged.

Seaga served as Jamaica’s fifth Prime Minister from 1980 to 1989, and is a distinguished Fellow of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Fellow of the Institute of Jamaica, and Pro-Chancellor of UTech from 2007 to 2010.

His scholarly output includes several publications and lectures on a number of subjects including education, politics, culture, economics and Caribbean development. He recently published an autobiography and is engaged in research and writing as a Distinguished Fellow of the UWI.

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