Corrupt Practices in Jamaica’s Education System: Guest Blog Post by Wayne Campbell

Here is a guest post by fellow blogger and educator Wayne Campbell. I touched on this issue in my last news update. It struck me then that the remarks by the English professor was almost the first time I had heard anyone speak openly on this issue – at least to my knowledge. I love this comment by Wayne: “We must at all times remember that we are preparing students for their future, not our past.”  Please do respond to him directly, or via this blog.

Corruption is the enemy of development and of good governance. It must be got rid of. Both the government and the people at large must come together to achieve this national objective. Pratibbha Patil

Jamaica’s education system is at a critical juncture. Since gaining political independence in 1962, the island has suffered from corruption, a lack of transparency and accountability across all sectors. At the same time the society has experimented with numerous educational policies and reform programs. However, we have failed to achieve equity for our students with regards to outcomes.

In February of 2004, then Prime Minister, PJ Patterson appointed a 14 member task force on educational reform to modernize the island’s education system. The Educational System Transformation Programme (ESTP) emerged in response to the assessment of the performance of Jamaica’s education sector. While we must commend the tremendous work of the Task Force, especially with regards to the ground breaking recommendations many of which are in place, the society needs to demand more accountability in the area of school leadership and management.

Recently, Professor Paul Miller, reader in education at Brunel University in the United Kingdom, questioned the corrupt promotion policies which continue to hurt Jamaica’s education system.

Professor Miller stated: “Those persons more likely to get promoted were those who were in favour with a school’s administration and local education ministry officials.”

While corruption in policies and practices are not unique to Jamaica or to the education sector, we should be very concerned and ask ourselves if as a country we can continue to embrace such a culture to the detriment of our human capital as well as to Jamaica’s development.

Successive governments over the years have been tardy to root out corrupt promotion policies in the island’s education system. Disturbingly, such practices have now become embedded in the cultural DNA of the Jamaican society. The corrupt promotion policies do not rest solely at the level of principalship. They extend themselves to middle management at all schools, where the appointment of senior teachers is done at the whim and fancy of principals, many of whom do not have the best interest of education or their students at heart. To add insult to injury, many principals who are underachievers continue to have extensions given to them by the education ministry even as they reach the age of retirement. This practice ought to cease with immediate effect. We cannot afford as a society to continue to reward poor leadership.

We have replaced a culture of meritocracy with one of connectedness. Sadly, in the process we have destroyed the innovation and creativity among a sizeable percentage of teachers. We must at all times remember that we are preparing students for their future, not our past.

We have allowed the influence of politics to hijack the teaching and learning process, which has resulted in many of our schools underperforming, as is documented by the National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report of 2014. The NEI report stated that more than (60%) sixty per cent of the country’s primary and secondary schools are failing in their education delivery to students.

As a society we are not data driven. Many schools have ignored the recommendations of the NEI report. We no longer hold principals accountable. In too many instances our schools are operated like private businesses for the well being of the principals and a selected highly favoured cohort of middle management. Who cares about the welfare of our children?

Education is often referred to as the catalyst of change. However, in a corrupt environment, change is often slow and leads to frustration among the stakeholders. A school is more than a place to impart knowledge. Schools are channels of values and attitudes, which are necessary for the social integration and cohesiveness in the society.

The country will continue to hemorrhage, as long as we embrace principal prejudice and turn a blind eye to corrupt practices. Let us reject the old style of doing things. The world is moving ahead and shunning corruption. It cannot be business as per usual. Jamaica at a time like this requires bold leadership, not only at the national level, but at all levels throughout the society. We need and should demand men and women of impeccable character to lead our children. Our schools need to engage their communities in more outreach programmes in order to have a more inclusive approach to education. Let us be courageous and remove politics and indicators of affiliation from school board appointments, as this contributes to corrupt promotion policies. We need to empower our school boards to stand up to those principals who are corrupt and who continue to divide our schools. The education ministry needs to show leadership in this regard and do what is right and put in place transformational leaders in our schools. The society needs to be more proactive and demand more transparency and accountability within the education sector.

In the words of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, “Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow.”

#leadership #corruption #schools #education #nepotism #management #children #learning #transparency #schoolboards #politics #accountability

Wayne Campbell



Wayne and I when we first met, at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Campus. (Photo: Latoya Nugent)
Wayne and I when we first met, at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Campus. (Photo: Latoya Nugent)

2 thoughts on “Corrupt Practices in Jamaica’s Education System: Guest Blog Post by Wayne Campbell

  1. This blog hits the nail on the head, from experience, the best teachers are promoted as extension officers and are taken out of the classroom, sad! decent people on school boards resign when drug dealers and people of questionable character are appointed to the boards because they have money to help the school! Principals and teachers cannot be fired, transferred… process takes about 2 years, so they are secure in their job and do not need to preform.

    Alas it is so sad, as a child usually has one opportunity to learn the curriculum and is then pushed through the system, so one bad teacher for a year can change the course of the child’s education for its life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it sad. This is how all kinds of corruption holds back our country’s development, in so many ways. I had no idea frankly that it was that bad, until that “farriner” put it so bluntly. I always wondered why parents were always protesting, etc. I just thought it was mainly mismanagement and incompetent administrators. But then corruption and incompetence often go hand in hand!


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