This week we are doing registrations for learners for a CXC Mathematics, English and Reading Programme at the Institute for Social Leadership. CXC or the Caribbean Examination Council is the certifying body for Regional examinations. It is the most basic requirement for acquiring a a job and gaining admission into colleges or Universities locally.
Many students graduate from High School without any CXCs and often struggle to get some after or end up having much more limited options for employment because of this lack.
At Di Institute we thought that if we were able to provide them with an opportunity to do CXC subjects, at a minimum Maths and English we would be helping them to open opportunities for employment and further studies.
As we began registration I became more puzzled by the situation and began to question our decision to offer Maths and English or even my view that CXC provided a solution.
We have been talking to youth 14-22yrs and this is what we have been understanding;
- The Youth we work with come from low-income households, typically inner-city communities with adverse living conditions.
- There is a lack of money and this makes them think about education specifically as a way to get a job and a job that will give them a steady income. Jobs like fireman, soldier, police, nurse, teacher, accountant, are commonly what i have heard as career options.
- These jobs are not the best paid in Jamaica. Even though there is scope to be promoted to higher positions over time, these are civil service jobs. Currently the civil service is experiencing a wage freeze and there is much talk about rationalization of the sector which could mean job loss. The service though seemingly representing a stable income, is also at the same time very unstable.
Are we trapping youths like these in a cycle of poverty with CXC preparation and qualification for these jobs?
- At the same time, pursuing higher education in Jamaica is becoming increasingly expensive. Many of them don’t see their parents being able to find the money to do this. Even though it is one route for increasing your career options and removing and making you more marketable and therefore likely to earn high salaries. More and more the University is taking a strict position on payment of tuition fees and the student loan bureau is reporting that it has received an increase in applications but has not yet been able to find all the money need to grant these loans. The student loan bureau has also suffered over the years from students defaulting on the repayment of their loans.
So as early as 16yrs old youth are prepared to go and find a job.
- How are new institutions to address education to provide opportunities to youth beyond the “middle level poverty trap” in Jamaica?
- What should a curriculum and programme for youth look like ?
- How can we use the value of current certification such as CXC ?
- How can we support youths in re-imagine their life and circumstances?
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