Columns

Time for University of Jamaica!

MARTIN SCHADE

Sunday, July 21, 2019

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The University of Technology, Jamaica has had several titles through its 60 years of existence. Originally it was the Jamaica Institute of Technology in 1958. In 1959 the name of the institution was changed to the College of Arts, Science and Technology. The institution was formally accorded university status on September 1, 1995 as the University of Technology, Jamaica.

Our history is commendable, but it is time to change again.

The University of Technology, Jamaica is our sole national university. We have notable colleges of health, medicine, business and a Faculty of Science and Sport, with alumni of Olympic status. We have a Faculty of Educational and Liberal Studies, a Faculty of Law, and soon perhaps a law school. We have a diverse and cultural Centre of the Arts, and a noteworthy department of community service. The fact is very simple; we are not merely a university of technology.

It is time to continue our evolution and become the University of Jamaica, where we enrich all aspects of learning and education.

As I say consistently to my students, “We have the power” to create our destiny, our ethics, our own individual identity. We cannot allow our colonial past to continue to dictate our future. Our understanding of education emerged from our British colonial system, where we perceived the existence of reality as only experience, viz British Empiricism; our ethics as only utilitarian, viz British Utilitarianism; our education as merely instrumental and exam-based. All of this way of thinking continued to evolve under the overriding principle of capitalism, with its primary focus of personal profit, founded by the British economist Adam Smith.

It is difficult to come out of this very established cocoon of colonialism, but we must! We need to open our university to philosophical, critical education and become a true national university that recognises the wonderful intrinsic nature of education in all of its disciplines.

Education is good in and of itself, independent of an exam, a vocation, a job and its money. Marcus Garvey is the testimony of this philosophy of education. We were named the College of Arts, Science and Technology, so we must continue to be an all-encompassing university with an identity found in our strong arts, sciences, and sport.

The University of Jamaica can have the best College of Technology under its umbrella, as many universities around the world have schools and colleges with a specific focus, eg Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, Trinity College of the University of Oxford, Johns Hopkins University's Whiting School of Engineering, etc.

It seems evident that the University of Jamaica should be the true name of our sole national university. Jamaica's aspiration should be that the Government, and its Ministry of Education, realise this and act accordingly.


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