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Getting to higher education through different routes

In the past, there was one path to earning a degree.  You finished high school then applied to university where you sat for four years and then received your degree and got a high paying job.  The change in the global environment means that the thinking about higher education also must change.  Dr. Carolyn Hayle, former chairman of the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) says that, “the different learning pathways are important competitiveness tools in a globalized market.”

Former Chairman of the UCJ, Dr Carolyn Hayle
(Photo: The University Council of Jamaica)

So what are learning pathways?

Dr. Hayle explains.  “In a globalized world learning pathways hold significant importance.  As the phrase implies and, as does the statement above, there are many learning routes or pathways that all lead to a desired scholastic goal.

“…successful education systems concentrate on building a hierarchy of skills. Testing and certification available at each level facilitates upgrading and enhancement of the pre-existing set of skills.”

– Dr Carolyn Hayle

“Education is the undisputed social “leveler.”  People have different learning styles and arrive at their education goals by varying routes and at varying times.  In the world of education this is acceptable but only if these routes and pathways are agreed upon beforehand.  This agreement is reached through inter alia a qualification framework.

“Nations and regions agree to the levels and crosswalks that reside in their respective frameworks.  The specialists in these areas used agreed upon tools of analysis to determine the final composition of an acceptable framework. This is important because these frameworks facilitate physical movement of people and qualifications for further study or employment.   Specialists from the labour market arena are expected to be part of the process of developing these frameworks so that there can be acceptance of the framework by their sector.”

Students participating in a lecture series at the GC Foster College in Jamaica.
Photo: The University Council of Jamaica)

According to research, Dr. Hayle explained, “Getting rid of poverty is about the abilities of people to make use of the economic opportunities available to them. Education is not just about teaching people an arcane subject but equipping them with meta-skills — of language, record keeping, data entry and analysis — that can be translated into many other skills.”

Dr. Hayle went on to say that research by the UCJ shows that “successful education systems concentrate on building a hierarchy of skills. Testing and certification available at each level facilitates upgrading and enhancement of the pre-existing set of skills.  These skills and attendant learning pathways facilitate each person’s journey in education, allowing them access to education on their own terms.  This journey eventually leads to the labour market where possession of specific skills are rewarded according to employer and industry norms.”

Entrance to the University of the West Indies, Mona.

Who benefits from these frameworks?

There is a great deal of confusion about education, learning pathways, certification and movement of people.  Yet, they are important to countries, firms and individuals as they ensure the quality and acceptance of the human capital needed to compete.

  Think of it this way, learning pathways create a ladder or cross walks that support individual circumstances and lifestyles.  Who benefits? Everybody benefits.  For example, countries can access foreign resources, of equal standing as those in their country, to shore up their national human resource base.

Firms benefit because they have access to skilled and globally certified workers that allow them to compete in any jurisdiction.  Most importantly, the individual benefits because he/she can move from country to country without wondering whether his/her certification will be accepted.  All this is determined through a network of national and international quality assurance agencies that work seamlessly across the global checking and verifying certifications, qualifications and credentials.  Globally, researchers believe that certification is the instrument of trade!