A case study of distance education and development in Jamaica : a study of three distance education organisations and their contribution to development

Skyers, Richard (1995). A case study of distance education and development in Jamaica : a study of three distance education organisations and their contribution to development. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000e06a


This study examines three distance education organisations in Jamaica in order to understand their role as contributors to Jamaica's development.

The three distance education organisations are:

1. The Ministry of Education Teacher Education Programme.
2. The University of the West Indies Distance Teaching Experiment. (UWIDITE)
3. The Jamaican Movement for the Advancement of Literacy. (JAMAL)

Jamaica's most recent Development Plan is also examined for an understanding of how distance education is linked into that plan. The study is concerned with the contribution that distance education can make towards Jamaica's development, the problems that inhibit development and the conditions that assist development. It is therefore concerned with the political and economic structures in Jamaica and how these affect the function of distance education in development strategies.

A qualitative approach, using the case study method is adopted, for this study, which enables the work of the institutions to be analysed in conjunction with attitudes of individuals who are involved in distance education in various capacities, for example as teachers, administrators, politicians, aid negotiators, volunteers and close observers. A qualitative analysis also helped in the understanding of the structure and functions of the organisations studied.

Because benefits can accrue to a society in terms of growth in its Gross National Product, without such benefits reaching the whole population, the political nature of Jamaica was examined particularly in terms of the ideology of the main political parties in order to determine the difference, if any, between them. How the ideology was acquired or developed is also important.

The study also examined the cultural and economic context in which attempts are being made to develop the society. This includes the internal relationships within the country and its external relationships with countries that give bilateral aid and organisations that 'assist' with multilateral aid.

The study concludes that Jamaica is at a serious disadvantage in its attempt to implement 'development' policies because it is not properly in charge of its own destiny. The countrys currency is subject to sudden devaluations which can increase the cost of development without the possibility of being able to plan for the increases in costs. Ways of overcoming these difficulties may be found in less political opportunism, improved inter-departmental co-operation in determining development priorities and a unified political approach to multi-lateral and bi-lateral aid agencies by the main political parties. There may be implications for other developing countries whose currencies continue to decline in relation to Western currencies.

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