I have to say that matters in Jamaica are often taken casually, ignoring serious problems that will affect the countries’ economy and social life: Like the banker who waives the claims made against him, saying “’Much ado about nothing”’, or the academic who quickly asserts a study to be ‘”flawed”’.

So let us look at the latter flaws, perhaps they made be converted to flawless. First, let us congratulate the JCF for doing an extraordinary task. It seems 54 schools were targeted, 18 schools provided most of sample, a size of 894 students in the sample. It does not mention the size of the population of the schools. If the sample size of 894 is correct, and data obtained from that sample size, it is close to a number that is the total population of 18 schools; the sample size is large enough to provide data (representative sample), and it becomes unnecessary to find the “characteristics “of the population if the right questions are asked.

There is the reference of 43 disappearing women that I cannot understand, so I will omit and carry on.

Then there is a comment about prison schools, and failing schools, which I appreciate, but calling them names does not oppose the data, so that  irrelevant. Thereafter a query is made that filling out a questionnaire is supposed to be more than five minutes per person hence the data is subject to error, is not an acceptable comment. Given a question sheet, to which the most answers may be ‘no”, and a skilled interviewer asking the questions, it is possible to achieve the result. Did the commenter see the list of questions to make that conclusion?

I also note the fears of the commenter that exposure of the report might affect the reputation of the students (or teachers} who participated in the interview. It is going to more public exposure as a result of the queries by the academics, and the commentators. The Minister reported the matter in Parliament, and brought it into the public domain, and the matter reflects an aspect of crime prevention which is very much a public matter. It does not affect the accuracy of the data, nor the conclusion.

Finally the last paragraph complains that students can’t get a job because of where they live. I have to contest that statement, and refer to working persons who commute to work daily. Employers generally tend to employ the nearest resident employee or qualified person for a job; then after a review of his/her qualifications, working experience, and the result of a simple test, the employer will select the applicant. Kingston and St. Andrew does not occupy a large area, and many persons travel from end to end in the course of a day. In most places one will find violence, or the proximity thereof. I do not believe this is a factor in selecting an employee, save to say his boss might want to know, where does the employee live?

A final observation; our community will need to try solutions in many ways, and with variations. Confronting an idea will delay and frustrate its implementation. Any approach to a problem like this might require help, not criticism, and may be tried on a limited scale before application so that the proper decision is realized.

(559 words)



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