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03/09/10

Permalink 10:52:45 am, by Skillachi
Categories: Politics, Business, Commentary, News

Government selling more stuff

Its hard to figure out what exactly is the current government's growth strategy for Jamaica because the government behaves in the most random behaviour I have ever seen. First they want to sell out all the local companies and then... well they want to sell out local companies (sorry it wasn't as random as I originally thought). So in a move inspired by nothing more than what side of the bed Bruce woke up on, the government is negotiating to sell the Kingston wharves to the Chinese.

kingston wharves

This sale for some strange reason seems to be being kept on the hush as nobody has really started to speak out against it and I am kind of confused as to why. You see kingston wharves has always been an interesting part of Jamaica because it is one of the few areas that always seem to be making money and is constantly being upgraded. This is due to a number of different factors with the most important reason being Jamaica's location in the world. Essentially Jamaica is placed in golden territory because it is directly in the middle of any traders going to North America from South America (and vice versa), Central America to Eastern Caribbean and/or Europe and West Africa, and South America going to Europe and West Africa. So you see we are a central point and when you include that we have excellent quality water and excellent facilities people just want to stop here. That's the reason why in the picture above there are so many containers at the kingston wharves and this has expanded much since that picture was taken.

jamaica in the world**taken from solarnavigator.com

Essentially the wharves is a fat cash cow... and they are gonna sell it. The reasoning as given by Investment and Commerce Minister Karl Samuda is that:

Along with the slated development of the Caymanas industrial Park, St Catherine and that of Vernamfield in Clarendon, could net the country over US$6 billion. "We are actively negotiating with the Chinese to acquire the Kingston Container Terminal and the reason for that is it would make the Caymanas economic zone much more attractive

This to me is yet another example of short term profit being preferred over long term gains. The areas which were highlighted in the quote (along with tinson pen) are to be sold to the chinese so that they can build a railroad linking the areas together to help boost the economy. This is a pretty good idea because the building of the railroad will provide jobs for the time that it is being done and the new centers which will inevitably have to be built in Caymanas, and Vernamfield will also provide some more jobs. The plan also includes the moving of the Tinson Pen Aerodrome and the development of the Vernamfield airfield so that we can get more commerce going.

Now I really and truly cannot disagree with the plans laid out by Mr. Samuda with the exception of one part. Instead of selling the wharves to the Chinese so that after they have done all the construction they will be the first to profit highly from it, why not instead go to the middle east countries and china (who have both expressed interest) and ask them to invest in the project but keep the project Jamaican. If you think of the project as being a big pie, give jamaica 35% of it and split up the rest of it among all interested countries so that they get returns on their investment and we get the larger returns over the long run? I know Jamaica has no expertise in developing railways at the moment, and as was shown in everything the chinese has built in Jamaica, chances are we wont learn anything new because there will be another slew of chinese workers who will be working on the railroad.

Really I am not a fan of selling out everything. I kinda like when I can say in my proud voice that certain things are Jamaican, since we have already thrown away Air Jamaica, Carib Cement, Carib steel etc., maybe its time we slow down a bit and think about keeping something purely Jamaican for a change.

03/08/10

Permalink 11:41:02 am, by amilnal
Categories: Entertainment, Culture

Macka Diamond launches new book

After the reasonable success of her first book 'BUN HIM!!!', Macka Diamond has just launched her second book with the hopes that it will replicate the impact which her inital offering had.

 ‘The Real Gangster’s Wife,’ released under the Pageturner Publising House imprint is scheduled to be released in book stores around the island. However, Sangster’s Book Stores, have stepped up and decided to facilitate the zeal of fans with the announcement of Macka Diamond’s in store appearances at several Sangster’s Book Stores, across the island starting this week.  

 Macka was quick to explain the purpose and reason behind the signings. “The interest and support from the fans have been crazy, and wi affi go out there and meet the readers, cause dem fans yah is not always di same one dem wha come a Stage Show or dance, so wi basically a mek di link,” states Macka, who went on to give the novel but yet comical experience she had recently. “A jus di addah night mi dey roun a Flexx dem ting, Happy Thursday, and a girl come to mi inna di dance a smile with har pen and book inna han, ready fi get it sign.”

 “It’s just another effort to make the Author/Artiste more accessible to her fans,” states Karl Larmond, Pageturner’s CEO. “Macka is an Artiste, and her fan base is vast, and with her venturing into the literary arena, that base has grown immensely, so this is merely an opportunity for her fans to do a little meet and greet with her, get their books autographed, and even take a picture for the memory.”

 

The signings will begin at Sangster’s Book Store in Montego Bay on Saturday, March 13th. The Spanish Town and Portmore branches will be next on Friday the 26th, and on Saturday the 27th it will be King Street and then off to the Springs Plaza.

 

 

03/07/10

Permalink 11:39:38 pm, by Melba
Categories: Business, Commentary

Jamaica Debt Exchange Initiative

The Minister of Finance,  Audley Shaw  has been quite elated at the success of the Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX) initiative. As a direct result Jamaica’s credit rating has already gone up by the international rating agencies.  The initiative also helped to secure our position with the IMF ensuring the desperately needed loan for Jamaica. But what does the initiative really means for the people of Jamaica.

Initially we were told that in order to qualify for the IMF loan the JDX was necessary. Also Thousands of public sector workers would have to lose their jobs. Those that remained would not have a pay increase for the next two years. The General Consumption Tax (GCT) had to be increased.  New taxes would have to be introduced on items that were previously zero rated including utilities and petrol.

What we were not told was the full impact of the JDX initiative. What is the JDX you ask? Well as a lay person this is how I understand it; if you had money invested in government securities in the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) the conditions agreed initially would be changed.  The Interest rates were to be lowered and the period of investment would be longer. Now you may not have had any dealings directly with the BOJ you placed your money with your bank. Same difference, many banks in turn invest your money with the BOJ so indirectly many people were affected. Then there are the pension schemes, the stock exchange, insurance companies and all the financial entities that invest your money for you. The BOJ is supposed to be the safest places to invest.

You begin to see the picture, if you think you were not, or would not be affected by the JDX then think again. If nothing else your pension has been slashed. Already there are reports of National Commercial Bank (NCB) closing branches and laying off between 150 and 200 workers as a direct result of the JDX. This is the same bank that reported profits of 10.2 billion dollars last year 2009. How many more to come you ask?

Fellow Jamaicans ‘it no look pretty’. Daily we hear of more and more layoffs in the making. Public sector workers to start going by March 31, Air Jamaica making some 2000 persons redundant by April 12. Not to mention the fact that many private sector workers are also being sent home without much publicity. Then there are all the helpers and gardeners who will subsequently be laid off as well. I have only one question for Mr. Shaw, who will he collect taxes from when most of us gone home with no work and no money?

Permalink 12:21:44 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Education, Commentary

Substandard Engineers?

I recently read an article that irked me just as much as the article I wrote about last year where the quality of the possible judges to the Caribbean Court of Justice came into question. This article published in the Jamaica Observer stated that the local engineering field has suffered from substandard graduates. Being a strong advocate of the pro Jamaican movement I am nothing less than outraged at the weak basis for Julian Richardson's argument and the fact that this is yet another "foreign minded" Jamaican simply ignoring the excellent quality of students that are produced locally. Before I continue I have to state that I could not find an online link to the article and so will be quoting parts, to anybody who wants to read the article in its entirety check the March 2, 2010 release of the Observer.

The first part of the article questions the source from where we will get engineering students and that is the High Schools. While I will agree that there is merit in his argument (as we have seen weaker results in math and physics), as far as his bashing of the current crop of engineers his arguments are terribly weak. Julian states:

"To do engineering, you have to have a good background in the physical sciences and mathematics," said Dr Reid. "I think you're all very aware of the (examination) results that we have had on an annual basis in these areas -- they're horrible! "What we get from that is a poor subset to draw from to educate and train as engineers, so we start with a weak background and it gets reflected further along the road whether it's in the people who practice, regulate or approve," ... less than 50 per cent of Jamaican students who sat the Caribbean Examinations Council test in 2009 gained better than a grade III certification -- the minimum pass mark -- in mathematics.

My first issue with Julians argument is the fact that he somehow believes that everybody wants to become an engineer. He has to believe so if he thinks that the fact that there is a low number of maths and physics passes means that the crop of engineers are poor. I would suggest that a better survey would be to check how many students at the high school level want to become engineers, and then go further by looking at how many of those students know the requirements to study engineering. Also you cannot in fairness state that the universities are pushing out engineers that are bad at physics and mathematics because if you are to take a look at the curriculum for both the UWI and UTech's engineering programmes you will see that they are math intensive. Courses like: Mathematics 1-4, Physical Chemistry, Engineering Thermodynamics, Mathematical Modeling, Statistics, Engineering Physics etc. are all highly math and physics intensive courses and I am pretty sure nobody can get a bachelor's degree in engineering from either institution if they are not able to attain passes for these courses. Also of importance to note is the requirements to get into these University's engineering programmes; Both of the institutions state explicitly that applicants must have not just high passes in CXC level math and physics, but also at the advanced (CAPE) level. The UTech also has a provisional programme for students who dont have the Advanced level math and physics where they spend a year or more doing related subjects until they get it.

It seems to be that based on what Julian is arguing the standard of Doctors, and Computer Programmers and any other field which requires math and physical sciences must also be just as poor then. Based on what I have just stated I feel I need to however state that the blame so far should be placed on the education system at the hgih school level for not pushing out more students who can attain passes in subjects that provide people with basic life skills.

The next point that Julian makes is that:

Further impacting the quality of the engineering fraternity is severe brain drain from Jamaica to more developed countries which, in effect, reduces the size of the talent pool, said the JIE. For instance, according to Chung, only "five or six" Jamaicans who graduated with an engineering degree from the University of the West Indies (UWI) campus in St Augustine, Trinidad in 2009, came back to practice in Jamaica after graduation.

Many people in Jamaica are constantly quarreling about the brain drain that Jamaica has continued to experience as we push out better and smarter graduates that quickly gather international acclaim and are being requested by the thousands. It is no coincidence that Jamaican engineering students have all looked to leave the island after attaining their degrees, instead it is simply because we dont have the jobs available. I have a number of friends who all have engineering degrees and if it is one thing that I have realized is that after they are finally finished with school, entry to the working world is really based on luck as their only other choice is to leave the field or suffer and wait for a job to become available. Any individual will agree with me that if you cannot get what you want in Jamaica and it becomes available somewhere else it makes more sense to go their and ply your trade. If you the JIE ensured that these graduates had jobs to get into after leaving school then maybe you wouldn't have such a large brain drain. As a matter of fact this need to get a job, also needs to be changed and more entrepreneural behaviour should be taught so that people become more inventive.

The final part of the article written by Julian speaks about the reason for the brain drain as far as he knows wherein:

The aforementioned, explained Dr Reid, is a result of the massive expansion over the past two decades in the Trinidad economy as opposed to the stagnation in the Jamaican economy. "UWI Trinidad used to be the major source (of engineers to Jamaica)," said Dr Reid. "But with the growth in oil prices, Trinidad has been on a continuing expansion of various parts of their economy, so quite a number of our engineers graduated from St Augustine and stayed at St Augustine so to speak. And what made it even worse is that, at the same time, you're getting a stagnation of our economy... and therefore you're not encouraging the engineers to come home."

This further backs up what I was stating which shows just how contradicting his argument's are. He knows the reason for the brain drain is the fact that jobs are in fact available there and not here. I personally know a number of engineers who are unable to use the full value of their education because they cannot gain a job. So what exactly are you trying to say Dr. Reid and Mr. Richardson? That they should simply come back to Jamaica and sit down and waste time?

However this is just the beginning of my problems with this article, as I said before I do know a number of young freshly graduated engineers. The count goes up to at least 30, all with degrees in varying sections of engineering some even with masters degrees who are for some reason unable to find jobs. Around 80% of those people I know are UTech graduates around 10% UWi and the rest went to various schools in America.  Now the reason I have decided to list what schools these engineers come from is to say the following. Firstly that in Jamaica as has always existed there is an "old boys club" of sorts, wherein most/all of the old boys are UWI graduates and for some reason doesn't believe that the UTech is producing proper engineers. This is obvious to me because neither Julian or Dr Reid even attempted to include the fact that the UTech is pushing out large numbers of engineers its almost as if the UTech doesn't even exist to these people which to me is another showing of the fact that Dr. Reid and Mr. Richardson are members of this old boys club that aren't even giving the UTech graduates chances.

But my blame doesn't only fall on the old boys club nor only with Dr. Reid and Mr. Richardson. But I blame the universities themselves, as 5 days following the publishing of this article there is yet to be any reply from either of the universities where they refute their claims as foolish and without any good merit. Am I to believe that the universities agree that they are pushing out bad engineers? That all the money being spent to train these students has gone to waste? I expect better from the two premier educational institutions in Jamaica.

To Mr. Reid I say this though, the basis of your arguments are weak and maybe you should begin to look inward instead of constantly looking outward for solutions

03/04/10

Permalink 08:19:47 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Politics, Business, Commentary, News

GOJ and AA deal wasn't proper

Ok so yet another news piece which doesn't in anyway whatsoever surprise me has been revealed to the public, this news is a report that the deal which the government signed with American Airlines for them to continue operating certain routes to Jamaica which they were considering cutting due to their non-profitability (that word may or may not be made up). To give you a little history on the deal at the time (I shall try to make it as understandable as possible) essentially the deal said this:

1) The government will pay AA to continue to fly routes which it wanted to drop because it wasn't making any profit off them... Even though many of these routes were already being operating on (with profit) by Air Jamaica. The reason given was that:

"the decision to sign an agreement with AA was based on its ability to move persons from across North America to the gateways. American will be able to get persons from communities from around the airports and Air Jamaica does not have the planes going into the communities around the gateways," Bartlett argued.

2) America will not fly if the flights are booked to less than 65% (I'll get back to this in a second)

3) The government will pay AA if those routes travelled have more than 65% but less than 75% seats. So in other words if 74% of the plane is filled on any flight travelling to Jamaica, the government will cover the revenue which would have been made on the other 26% on EACH flight. Interesting tidbit of information I have learned from my friends who work in the airline industry, EVERY flight is booked with ghost bookings, essentially about 10 or more seats are booked even though no actual person has actually booked themselves on the flight, its some strange logic that I dont understand but is used. I'm sure you realize the problems which occur already here, I mean American could simply book their flights up to 74% each time and the government would have to pay for each flight.

4) America will make 19 new flights to Jamaica each week. So in addition to the previous number of flights (I will guesstimate a low number of 25 flights), AA will fly 19 new flights to Jamaica so thats 44 flights which America will make to Jamaica each week that it simply cannot lose money on because the government will pay them for it.

Ignoring the fact that Air Jamaica was never given a deal of this nature, I wont go further into the deal, after all its been done, signed seal and delivered. Instead I'll focus on the fact that apparently this deal which only gives the Jamaican people the POSSIBILITY of making a profit, vs a DEFINITE profit for AA was faulty *insert sarcastic Gasp here*. According to this article published yesterday:

1) The contractor general (Greg Christie) stated that Lynch signed contracts with American Airlines prior to these being submitted to and/or approved by the Cabinet, despite the fact that it was indicated to him that Cabinet approval was a condition for the award of the contracts. Christie said, to date, he has seen no proof that there was Cabinet approval for the airlift guarantee deal.

2) The evidence which has been presented to the OCG (Office of the Contractor General) has indicated that JAMVAC initiated the deal with American Airlines, and not the other way around, as was falsely asserted by the Honourable Edmund Bartlett in his Cabinet submission.

3) In essence, the OCG has not been provided with physical evidence to indicate that other alternatives were weighed by JAMVAC before it was decided that JAMVAC would enter the air service agreements with American Airlines

Now I will be compl etely honest here, I believe that even if this deal had gone through the proper channels this deal would still have passed because it is a part of the GOJ's plan to screw Jamaica in as many ways as possible before it loses power. However Ed Bartlett actually replied to the findings of the contractor general... with the blatant error that he actually had addressed NONE(Not a single one) of the findings of the CG's investigation. So what was the point of the letter then?

Personally I hope that Ed Bartlett goes to prison, or at least is forced to suffer in some way because of what he has done. He has signed Jamaica to an agreement that really gives us the short end of the stick, and the only people who suffer as a result is the Jamaican people. As of such he needs to become answerable to the Jamaican people and I am sure that many of them agree with me when I say. You need to go to prison and do hard labour until you have repayed every single dollar you have wasted.

But hey we all know what will happen, this will just fade to black like every other case that deals with politicians... Oh yea dont forget to pay AA the money you owe them due to this deal Mr. Bartlett.

03/03/10

Permalink 10:51:31 am, by Skillachi
Categories: Politics, Business, Commentary

The US government declares diplomatic war

Its not everyday I feel triumphant after doing something as simple as writing an article, but yesterday morning when I saw the front page of the Gleaner I just found myself smiling and laughing as the first thing that was written was what I had posted about the day before. The US government has finally come out and said well, extradite who we requested or expect a diplomatic war and as we all know, being at diplomatic war with America isn't exactly the best position for Jamaica to be in at the moment, especially since we have made ourselves so dependent on them.

Looking back on the article there are alot of interesting points which were made which I believe are showing a number of things which people either didn't know about or people can assume from the article. Firstly ignoring the facts that for some strange reason the Information Minister, and the Minister of National Security could not be reached at the time for a comment (thats pretty shady), and also ignoring the fact that for some strange reason this request has had to be handled not by the information ministry or by a Member of Parliament, but instead it seems like the Prime Minister has made himself Chief Counsel for the party whom was requested to be extradited, this entire fiasco is riddled with questions.

Bruce v Goliath**Jamaica Gleaner

First of all the statement by the US stated:

According to Washington, in the past, extradition requests from its law-enforcement agencies were routinely and timely processed by Jamaican political and judicial authorities. But that contradicts Golding, who told Parliament late last year that the extradition request was being held up because the Jamaican Government had unanswered questions.

I read this and started to wonder if this was the US government kind of hitting out againts the JLP government, I ask because it clearly says "in the past, extradition requests...." so it seems like this is is saying that the JLP has been continually unhelpful in assisting law enforcement which I could possibly agree with especially since the Chief of Police left last year under some pretty uncertain circumstances. The US went on further to state that:

The GOJ's unusual handling of the August request forthe extradition of a high-profile Jamaican crime lord with reported ties to the ruling JLP which currently holds a majority in Parliament, on alleged drug and firearms trafficking charges marked a dramatic change in GOJ's previous cooperation on extradition, including a temporary suspension in the processing of all other pending requests and raises serious questions about the GOJ's commitment to combating transnational crime. "The high-profile suspect resides in and essentially controls the Kingston neighbourhood known as Tivoli Gardens, a key constituency for the JLP"

Ok I guess I can stop saying it "seems" like, they have pretty much stated that the JLP is being unhelpful in the legal matter which would help to extradite the suspect. Now I will just come out and say it, things are looking strange but it seems the government does not want to help, and it is well within their right, however the reasons behind their denial are to me quite weak. First of all in 2009 it was stated that the Jamaican Government said there were some peculiarities within the request which they wanted clarification on, however to me when you use words like peculiar this to me says its a minor issue, and therefore this cannot be reason enough to hold back something of this nature, but anything is possible. However now the reason has changed from those minor peculiarities to the fact that the investigation done by the US was done incorrectly. I try to be objective at all times and I cant point to any case being stronger than the other, however I can say that this case has forced the US to start flexing its muscle, so I wouldn't doubt if there was something fishy going on, on either side.

Its interesting to add that while the US has promised more diplomatic stiff-arming of the Jamaican government, the Jamaican government as come out and stated that the current set of visa revocation exercises that are taking place are completely unrelated to the extradition issue. Now come on, how much more diplomatic strength can the US show than by simply banning Jamaicans from coming to the US? Of course this is related, they just wont say it outwardly. This story shall heat up in the coming weeks however so expect more to come

03/01/10

Permalink 11:00:50 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Commentary, News

High Society Jamaicans Losing their Visas

So sometime last week there was a newsbreak which stated that businessman Wayne Chen while attempting to travel outside of the country found out quite embarrasingly that his visa was revoked. Now when the news broke instantly eyebrows started to raise throughout the nation as people began to speculate (as only Jamaicans can) about the reasons behind the revocation. I however find it strange that according to this article, the government has had to look into the matter itself... yes the entire government of Jamaica is now asking the US government why it revoked the passport of one citizen. Personally I am hoping this is something which happens with every traveller who this happens to, but I know this is only wishful thinking.

Speculators noted the fact that for nearly a year now (or more, I maybe wrong) there has been no US ambassador to Jamaica, people have found the non-appointment of somebody to the position quite strange and have thought that this was a move by the US to slowly cut off Jamaicans, a move which they believe stemmed from the fact that the government continues to deny an extradition request of a high profile criminal to the United States. Therefore this move is seen as some form of a showing of the abilities of the US government as it barely flexes it muscles against Jamaica. I've also heard some speculation that the reason for the revocation was due to unscrupulous things which were done in the past by Mr. Chen. However there is no established facts to backup any of the claims so I am forced to take the objective stance and just wait until we receive word from the authorities.

As for the US government's side, there has been no direct explanation given as to the reason why the visa was suddenly revoked but both the Gleaner and the Observer have released statements from Chen where he states:

I have been a public figure in this country for 15 years. It is really distressing to know that my visa has been cancelled without notice... I can't imagine a reason why. I was at the US Embassy some weeks ago looking about a visa for a family member and I presented my passport and I was not informed of the cancellation.

Among other things praising Chen as a wonderful public figure... I will have to agree that as far as his public image goes however he has been pretty spotless and there is no well known misdemeanor or felony against him. However this is in the public eye, and being that we are living in a pretty corrupt society its possible for things to disappear if necessary.

Furthermore an interesting addition to the scandal that hasn't been reported publicly is the fact that Chen isn't the only high society individual... As a matter of fact a number of people have suddenly had their visa revoked. I can't say publicly who's name has been called due to a lack of definite facts however I think I can say that one of them has a nickname that is popularly associated with really mean dogs.

For whatever reason it is though people in high positions in society have suddenly started worrying about the state of their visa's and there is a sort of ruffling of feathers going on and many people are starting to get worried. Either way this is quite the scandal and you can imagine people are starting to get excited over this event and u can imagine that there will be a huge media scandal over this in the coming weeks.

hide visa

02/27/10

Permalink 10:17:26 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Sports, Commentary, News

Jamaica's Up and Coming middle-Long distance program

Jamaica has always had pride in the fact that we've been called the sprint capital of the world. Ever since we first entered the olympics we have basiaclly set ourselves apart as a people with an amazing ability to run really fast over short distances. All Jamaicans who know a little track history will always look back to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics games where Herb McKenley, Les Laing, Arthur Wint and George Rhoden (and lesser known Byron Lebeach) captured a world record and the gold medal in the 4x400m relay, they will Also remember Arthur Wint winning the 400m gold in 1948, Donald Quarrie taking 200m gold in 1976, Deon Hemmings taking 400m hurdles gold in 1996, Merlene Ottey pulling silver and bronze in the 100 and 200m races, and of course the recent exploits of Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell, Melaine Walker, Bridgette Foster-Hylton, Shelly-Ann Fraser, Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Michael Frater in the olympics of 2004 and 2008.

donald quarrie

However the more keen reader (and whoever read the topic header) will realize that all of these victories I have just spoken about are limited to the distance of 400 metres and less. The reason being that simply we have never really had much of a distance heritage. Maybe its that we are impatient and prefer to be over with things quickly, or maybe we just find those distances dont entice is with the excitement that we are used to with the shorter distance races. But for whatever reason we really dont like running longer distances. However it seems that with the recent rise in interest in track and field, Jamaica has started to field more entrants in the middle-long distance events and our times in those events have improved to the point where we have people who in a few years may seriously contend in the olympics for medals.

In fact our middle-long distance drought has been of such a nature that we actually have a 33 year old national record in the 800 meter event, set by Seymour Newman a past Wolmerian (Age Quod Agis!!) who even though he was top class at the national level, could not manage to pull a medal in the olympics. Now in case you dont realize just how long 33 years is, look at the fact that almost every year at every level in sprinting Jamaicans break and reset records with the relative ease of tieing a shoelace. Even today at the Gibson relays at least 4 records were broken in some events.

However most avid watchers will realize that our long distance program has increased somewhat over the years. In fact today the boys class 1 4x800 race had around 26 entrants into the event, simply maths will tell you that that means a total of 104 boys took part in the event. In addition athletes such as Kemoy Campbell (current holder of the national 1500 and 5000 metre records) who continue to excell in long distance events.

kemoy campbell

With this increase in the distances it shows a changing of the mindset of Jamaican athletes who now are attempting to excell at all levels and we hope will eventually take the sport to higher heights and continue making Jamaicans proud to be Jamaican. Middle-long distance running is on a rise in Jamaica and knowing our constant need to be the best at everything we do, I would like to warn the rest of the world that Jamaica is coming, you should all be shaking in your boots, we might just have another Usain Bolt somewhere in our midst.

Bolt

Permalink 03:18:50 pm, by Melba
Categories: Business

The 34th annual Gibson Relays - 2010

The 34th annual Gibson Relays takes place today February 27, 2010 at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. The Gibson relays is a one-day relay event which features top athletes from prep, primary and high schools throughout Jamaica, some of Jamaica's best local stars, in track and field as well as teams from overseas. Competitors are expected from Martinique, Canada, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles, Cuba, Florida, the Bahamas and Guadeloupe for this year's Relays. With Jamaica at the top of its game on the world stage in the area of track and field, today promises to be a great treat for the Jamaican fans.

One of the highlights of today’s meet will be the appearance of Jamaica’s triple Olympic and World Championships gold medalist Usain Bolt, the undisputed fastest man in the world, who  will run for his club Racers Track Club in the men’s 4 by 100 and 4 by 400-metre relays. Amoung their competitors will be the world-renowned MVP Track Club.

Gibson Relays takes place about a month before Jamaica’s Boys’ and Girls’ School Championship which is one of the nation's great annual sporting events.  The meet will also feature the island’s top schools, which will use the relays to test their readiness for Champs. This year Calabar High School for boys will be noticeably missed.  As a result of using an ineligible athlete at last year's meet, an error which Calabar nobly pointed out to the organizers, Calabar High School for boys has withdrawn for this year. The absence of Calabar High means that fans will have to wait to see the highly acclaimed Calabar High 4x100 m relay team.

Personally I think that this move by Calabar is very commendable. According to the rules and regulations outlined by the organizers, the infringement automatically attracts a one-year suspension from the meet. Yes, it was the Calabar High School officials that brought the incident to the attention of the meet directors; however the lesson of discipline to the participants and the student population on a whole is invaluable. Winning is not nothing if not gained honestly.  

Another highlight of today’s meet will be the guest lecturer at this year's Gibson Relays technical corner,  Denmark's Wilson Kipketer.  Winner of three successive IAAF World Championships in Athletics gold medals in 1995, 1997 and 1999, the native Kenyan who retired from active competition in August 2005 currently holds eight of the 11 all-time fastest runs over 800 metres. During the week leading up to the Relays, Kipketer addressed athletes at the GC Foster College.

There is so much more that I have not mentioned. All in all, today promises to be a very exciting and entertaining day at the National Stadium. Jamaica’s track and field at his best. If you can’t be there be sure to catch it on the television.

Nuff Love

02/26/10

Permalink 10:17:39 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Politics, Education

The problems of the Jamaican Education System (Part 2)

In my last post I wrote about the problems of our current education system, well as I got to the end of the post I realized there were a lot of rants I wanted to make regarding education in Jamaica, specifically pricing. Now ignoring the fact that not even high school education is free, lets look at tertiary level education. Since taking power the government has slowly but surely taken steps to remove the subsidy that the previous government has placed on tertiary education. So much so that anybody attending any tertiary institution will have realized the stark rise in tuition that has taken place over the years, a rise which is expected to continue since we have received the loan from the International Monetary Fund, a loan which has stipulated that they will have to cut the subsidy. Further hurting Jamaica's chances of ever reaching anywhere.

imf loan screws university students

Why? Just how many people do you think can afford a full tertiary education? The full economic cost per year of many degrees ranges around the US$10,000 mark... Per year. Multiply that by the current exchange rate and that means that the average Jamaican will have to find around J$900,000 every year for 3 or so years just to attain an education. Adding to that the fact that the degrees that may help us to attain better cheaper health-care cost exponentially more than that US$10,000 figure I initially stated only helps to make the situation worse. Especially since the people who leave these institutions do not have any jobs to go into.

The education minister then stated that maybe our education system is innefficient and inneffective. He makes an argument which I will admit was made on reasonable grounds but with what I consider to be very bad reasoning. He states:

"... each year Government was spending $14 billion for 60,000 students at the tertiary level -- all institutions combined -- while $2 billion was spent on early childhood, about $7 billion on primary education, and $12 billion on secondary schools.

But if we continue to spend on education in this way, effectively what we are doing, is providing for 60,000 and literally denying the other 250,000 (early childhood, primary and secondary)," he said, adding that based on the current results at the secondary level, only 11,000 of about 250,000 students could move directly on to tertiary education

And then finished off by saying that “only the elite was provided for in the current structure.” As I said he makes some reasonable arguments. First being that maybe we do need to start spending more on childhood education, for the simple reason that if you make a good base then you can make an excellent building (or... something like that). However I reiterate that I cannot see how spending less on tertiary education will change anything.

There's the fact that there will be less top level educated people in Jamaica, less educated people mean that we lose an important resource which is simply people with the knowledge and no-how to make better decisions and help to run the country more efficiently and intelligently than we do currently. It also means more entrepreneurs which then means more businesses which mean more money etcetera. Oh and these educated people can also turn around and better educate at the early childhood and high school levels which improves the education system which continues this cycle of brilliant Jamaicans adding to the world and making the world a better place.

See what I'm getting at? See that fun cycle of epic I just made? We need to keep the educated people in Jamaica and stop importing foreigners and pushing the locals away. Its the only way to improve Jamaica in the long term (short term planning isn't gonna get us anywhere).

Teachers are an important resource, keep them. Tertiary education is important to the nation, fund it! ... So ends my rant

 

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Three Ministers

Three ministers - a Presbyterian, a Methodist, and a Southern Baptist and their wives were all on a cruise together. A tidal wave came up and swamped the ship, and they all drowned. The next thing you know, they're standing before St.Peter.

As fate would have it, the first in line was the Presbyterian and his wife. St. Peter shook his head sadly and said, "I can't let you in. You were moral and upright, but you loved money too much. You loved it so much, you even married a woman named Penny."

St.Peter waved sadly, and poof! Down the chute to the 'Other Place' they went. Then came the Methodist. "Sorry, can't let you in either," said Saint Peter "You abstained from liquor and dancing and cards, but you loved food too much.

You loved food so much, you even married a woman named Candy!" Sadly, St. Peter waved again, and whang! Down the chute went the Methodists.

The Southern Baptist turned to his wife and whispered nervously, "It ain't looking good, Fanny."

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