That is the reason it will be one of the key focus areas at the Northern Caribbean Conference on Economic Co-operation (NCCEC), to be held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Grand Cayman, on December 17. Participants at the conference will include national leaders, government officials and members of the private sector from the Bahamas, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
“The pace of globalization, the revolution in technology, and the exponential nature of change in today’s world are posing fundamental challenges to the prevailing educational paradigm,” Dr. Jules said. As a result, “Increasingly, countries are benchmarking for performance.”
For the Caribbean, these trends pose grave challenges; as well as, tremendous opportunity, the noted educator pointed out. He added that, “We must ensure that we leverage our strengths to participate…as contributing partners to the global knowledge economy.”
Higher educational institutions exist in all the countries participating in the conference, with a sophisticated tertiary educational infrastructure in several. The University of Havana, for example, was founded in 1728, while the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, was formally founded in 1538, and is said to be the oldest institution of higher education in the Western Hemisphere. And, the more than 60-year-old University of the West Indies, at Mona in Jamaica, with campuses in several other countries, is highly regarded internationally.
“We intend to know each other more… so that we can help more, (and) be more united,” said Dr. Eric Fernandez Hernandez, Professor of Foreign languages at the University of Havana, who along with Dr. Jules, is a member of a panel slated to discuss the issue of education at the conference. He added that, “It is time for meetings and not disagreements, which is why we gather to dialogue.”
“The conference also affords exploration of opportunities for collaboration,” says UWI Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Gordon Shirley. “It will allow for an examination on how performance in schools can be improved, and how educational services can be traded among the Northern Caribbean neighbours as they integrate into the global knowledge economy.”
“The possibility of developing the trade in education services is real and imminent,” said Earl Jarrett, General Manager of Jamaica National Building Society, a sponsor of the conference in tandem with the National Building Society of Cayman.
He pointed out that, “Given the challenges of studying overseas, and the existing regional infrastructure, students can now begin to take advantage of the enormous opportunities.”
Contents for this story was obtained from Andrew Green, Communications Specialist at the Corporate Communications Department, Jamaica