The Brain Train: Quality Higher Education and Caribbean Development

The Brain Train: Quality Higher Education and Caribbean Development

The Brain Train: Quality Higher Education and Caribbean Development

The Brain Train: Quality Higher Education and Caribbean Development

Excerpt

For some years now there has been an on-going global debate as to the place of higher education in development. For a developing region like the Caribbean the issue is more precisely the role of quality higher education in its growth and development. Higher education has expanded, both in terms of the numbers engaged in its programmes and in terms of the types of programmes offered. In this context development for the Caribbean region must be seen as encompassing not only economic advancement for the region but also the qualitative changes that lead to a more civil society, with a growing awareness amongst the citizens of the region of their identity as Caribbean people and of their place in the world. The multi-cultural and multi-racial nature of our region continues to provide special challenges and the inculcation of a greater knowledge and appreciation of the cultures of the Caribbean must be a central focus of our education systems. The University of the West Indies (UWI) must ensure that its graduates are not only well trained in their particular disciplines but also sensitive to these various issues, and imbued with a strong sense of social responsibility, in order that they might contribute to the debate.

Knowledge is arguably replacing physical capital as the source of future wealth and higher education now constitutes a primary force driving the sustainability of development. An undergraduate degree impacts positively on the life experiences of its holder. It raises wages and productivity as well as enhancing the quality of civil society and graduates earn more than non-graduates, particularly in the medium to long term. The macro-economic impact of raising the number of those participating in tertiary education is also strong. Just as individuals with better education tend to succeed more in the labour market, so economies with higher tertiary enrolment rates appear to be more dynamic, competitive in global markets, and more successful in terms of higher income per capita. There is also the growing awareness within Caribbean societies that higher education can be seen as a civil right with an attendant demand for inclusion in the benefits of development. The potential for development in the CARICOM community is, however, at risk of being substantially reduced by ‘info-poverty’, amongst other factors. It is now . . .

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