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The M.L.C: An Abandoned Seafarers’ Lifejacket Part 1

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Written by: Jermaine Reid

In the last few weeks Jamaican news reporters have ensured that the Jamaican population is aware of the plight of thousands of Jamaican seafarers who want to return home but are unable to, since Jamaica closed its ports to cruise ships on March 14, 2020 in response to the first confirmed case of Covid19 on the island. Some persons may state that these seafarers’ have been abandoned, however, to determine what abandonment is under Maritime law one must examine the Maritime Labour Convention 2006.

On a cold winter morning of February 23, 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland a monumental day in Maritime Law history was unfolding at the International Labour Organization. After five years of intense meetings the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) was now ready for signing by member states.

With the stroke of a pen and the submission of instruments of accession to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Jamaica became a signatory to the Maritime Labour Convention on June 14, 2017. Seafarers who possess Jamaican citizenship are now protected by the extensive rights that this convention, dubbed the ‘Seafarers’ Bill of Rights’ conferred upon them.

The preamble of the MLC gives a clear coherent trajectory that its member states are expected to follow international standards on ship safety, human security and quality ship management. This is achieved by the five titles that the MLC is divided into:

1. Minimum Requirements for seafarers to work on a ship

2. Conditions of employment

3. Accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering

4. Health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection

5. Compliance and enforcement

Conditions of Employment This international convention is one of such a magnitude that delving into all five would be quite voluminous. Title two by its very nature of Conditions of Employment is the source of most legal disputes as it encompasses: A. Seafarers’ Employment Agreement B. Wages C. Hours of work and Rest D. Entitlement to leave E. Repatriation F. Manning

The issue of abandonment is often intertwined with breach of Employment Agreement, none payment of wages and unreasonable working hours, which results in the seafarer wanting to be sent back to their home country i.e repatriated.

Seafarers’ Employment Agreement

This agreement is the lifeline of the seafarers’ connection to the ship owner and the ship. The MLC dictates that it shall be clearly written, have seafarers contact details, ship owners contact details, location agreement entered into, amount of wages, annual leave, termination conditions, health benefits and any other particulars required by national law. The MLC further ensures that the rights of the seafarer is protected by ensuring that seafarers are given an opportunity to get independent advice before signing the agreement. The employment agreement is in essence the major document a seafarer will get from the ship owner and as such it should contain relevant information of the ship owner and adequately protect the seafarer by allowing him to know the ship owner’s duties and obligations from before he even signs the employment agreement. In the event the seafarer or the ship owner decided to commence litigation the parties will know exactly who and where documents are to be served.

To be continued….

Resurrection of the Quarantine Act Part 2

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Part 2 continued…

Quarantine in Jamaica’s Territorial Waters

As expected the Quarantine Act has various provisions on how to handle ships that are coming to dock in Jamaica. Part II Section 4 mandates that “the master of a ship approaching the island from a foreign port shall ascertain the state of health of all persons on board and shall prepare and sign a declaration of health”. Section 6 puts even more health and safety measures in place by dictating “that every ship arriving in the island from a foreign port, shall be visited on arrival to the island by the visiting officer and the master shall surrender to the visiting officer the declaration of health and present to him for inspection any other ship’s papers which the visiting officer may desire to inspect.”

A Visiting Officer may grant permission to a ship to have dealings with a port if he is satisfied from the declaration of health and otherwise that during the voyage, or if the voyage has lasted longer than six weeks, during the six weeks immediately preceding arrival that (a) there has been no death or case of illness on board suspected to be due to infectious disease; (b) there has been no plague or undue mortality among rats or mice on board; (c) the ship has not called at an infected port: and (d) the ship was not overcrowded or in an insanitary condition.

As such one can see that the Quarantine Act ensures to protect Jamaica from infectious diseases entering the island from persons arriving by ship. Therefore it is seen that the old fashioned way of quarantining a ship has not been discarded but rather modified to ensure that there is as little disruption to world trade as is possible.

Quarantine on the Mainland

The Quarantine Act has even more challenges as it is harder to control the movement of people on the main land, however the Act still imposes regulations and restrictions on the Jamaican population as deemed fit, depending on the situation. Section 9 empowers the Quarantine Authority to make orders when an emergency exists, the Authority may by order direct special measures to be taken during the continuance of that emergency.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force at Section 12 of the Quarantine Act is given full authority to ensure that all persons on the island comply with rules and regulations born out of this Act, as it states:

12(1) It shall be the duty of every constable to enforce (using force if necessary) compliance with this Act and with any order, ‘instruction or condition lawfully made, given or imposed by any officer or other person under the authority of this Act; and for such purpose any constable may board any ship or aircraft and may enter any premises without a warrant’.

12(2) Any constable may arrest without a warrant any person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to have committed any offence against this Act.”

Offences and Penalties

For those amongst us who find it hard to follow rules and regulations Section 10 dictates what it considers to be an offence, it states:

Any person who:

  1. refuses to answer or knowingly gives an untrue answer to any inquiry made under the authority of this Act, or intentionally withholds any information reasonably required … or knowingly furnishes to any such officer information which is false; or
  2. …refuses or willfully omits to carry out any lawful order by any officer; or
  3. assaults, resists, willfully obstructs, intimidates, offers or gives a bribe to any officer

Section 12 further elucidates that If one is found guilty of the disorderly conduct mentioned above, they shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate, to a fine of five hundred thousand dollars or to imprisonment with hard labour for six months or to both a fine and imprisonment.

Based on the aforementioned on can see that the golden thread running through the Quarantine Act is ensuring that persons who may be carriers of an infected disease will remain ‘inside’ the ship or ‘tan a yuh yard’ until the pandemic is brought under control.

Resurrection of the Quarantine Act (Part 1)

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The Quarantine Act hereinafter referred to as the Act is now as famous as the term ‘Tan a yuh yard’ or Ding Dong’s April 2020 hit song ‘Inside, Inside’.

The shipping Industry has thrived on the exchange of goods and services. Eric Williams in his famous book entitled Capitalism and Slavery elucidated that the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were the centuries of trade and the nineteenth century was the century of production. For Britain, that trade was primarily the triangular trade which saw the trading of plants, animals, metals, precious stones and sadly humans – the vast majority being Africans who were sold into slavery. This global transfer of foods, plants, animals and humans during the colonization of the Americas is known as the Columbian Exchange. This exchange resulted in diseases and plagues being transferred from one country to another.

The Europeans were no strangers to plagues, as the fourteenth century saw the outbreak of the Bubonic Plague. Venice was the first port to have imposed restrictions on ships by making it mandatory that ships arriving in their port must wait and anchor for 40 days before landing. This practice was called quarantine and was derived from the Italian words quaranta giorni which means 40 days.

The International Health Cooperation (now known as The World Health Organization) was instrumental in the introduction of the International Sanitary Convention 1892. The objective of this convention was to harmonize and reduce to a safe minimum the conflicting and costly maritime quarantine requirements of different European nations. With Jamaica being a Colony of Great Britain, this convention was applicable to our island. However, it was not until the 15th day of December 1951 that The Quarantine Act was formally ratified into Jamaica’s domestic law.

Rise to Prominence

As COVID-19 cases began sweeping the world Jamaica was not spared its wrath, as on the 10th day of March 2020 Jamaican recorded our first case of Covid19. The government facing its worst health crisis, had to take decisive action to control the movement of individuals within Jamaica’s territorial waters and land mass. The Quarantine Act would now begin rising to ‘statutory prominence’ as Section 7 of the Act states “The Minister may make regulations, as respects the whole or any part of the Island, including the ports and coastal waters thereof, for preventing danger to public health from ships or aircraft or any person.”

In order to effectively carry out the regulations, Section 3 of the Act establishes a Quarantine Authority whose duty it is to execute the Quarantine Act’s regulations. The Minister must ensure that the Authority consist of a Chairman who must be the Chief Medical Officer and four other members. These members shall consist of a representative from the Shipping industry and another from the aviation industry.

Read part 2: coming soon.

New Interim CMU President earns Professor Emeritus title

By | CMU News, Uncategorized

The interim President of the Caribbean Maritime University Professor Evan W. Duggan is being conferred with the title of Professor Emeritus by the University of the West Indies.

The UWI, which made the announcement recently, has also approved recommendations to confer the title of ‘Emeritus’ on UWI Professor of Supramolecular Chemistry, Ishenkumba Kahwa.

The ‘Emeritus’ designation generally allows former office-holders of The UWI to retain their titles of ‘Professor’ after retirement.

Professor Duggan officially joined the CMU on June 1 of this year.


Professor Duggan officially concluded his time at the University of the West Indies on July 31, 2014 upon retirement. After having served for two (2) years as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, he continued his Deanship on two consecutive post-retirement contracts, until 2016. Professor Duggan served the University of the West Indies for a total of ten years, having been with the Department of Management Studies (now the Mona School of Business and Management) as a Professor since 2006.

He began his career in industry with Alcan, Jamaica where he attained the highest level in the Information Systems (IS) field, equivalent to today’s Chief Information Officer. This was followed by an outstanding career in academia, first with the University of Alabama and then with The University of the West Indies. His impact, in terms of teaching and learning, at The UWI was felt even before he was appointed to a full-time position as he would visit Jamaica to lecture in the Masters programme in Computer-Based Management Information Systems. The students always spoke highly of his teaching skills and, perhaps more importantly, of his interest in ensuring that they succeeded in their academic endeavours. These qualities remained with him throughout his career at The UWI. In 2005, while on sabbatical leave from the University of Alabama, he was appointed visiting professor for one year; he never left as he took on a permanent position as a Professor of Management Information Systems in 2006. His impact was immediate and lasting.

Professor Duggan played an integral role in the design, implementation and management of the PhD in Information Systems programme. This programme, at the time, was novel to UWI in terms of its design, as it was structured to have a two-year taught component followed by a dissertation. It was also a one-time delivery for a core of students and intended to increase expertise in the then new field of information systems. The limited expertise in the field locally also gave rise to a key component of the success of the programme – the participation of overseas academics, some of whom were members of the diaspora, in the supervision of students.

The success of the programme can, in large part, be attributed to Prof Duggan; not only did he supervise or sit on the supervisory committee for several students but, importantly, it was his networking skills that won the commitment of international scholars. The success of the programme can be measured by the students’ completion rate, their research output, the number of the graduates of the programme who are now key members of the academic community of UWI and the continued support given, in various ways, by some of the supervisors. The same structure was later used for the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programme and again Professor Duggan was not only integral in its conception, in terms of its design and approval, but also in the teaching and supervision of students. No matter their level, his interest in and mentorship of students has been exemplary.

During his time as Professor of Management Information Systems, he took on substantial administrative roles. By 2007, he was the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research for the Faculty of Social Sciences. In 2008, he was appointed Executive Director of the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM), an appointment which lasted for four years.

While at Mona School of Business and Management, Professor Duggan worked assiduously to improve the image of the School. He was instrumental in gaining Association of MBA’s (AMBA) accreditation for the Master of Business Administration programme in 2011. AMBA describes its accreditation as the highest standard in Postgraduate Business Education and it is recognised internationally as the global standard for all Master of Business Administration, Master in Business Management and Doctor of Business Administration programmes.

Professor Duggan has supervised seven doctoral students to completion between 2009 and 2016, with several others in process and served on the dissertation committees of over fifteen others. He has also taught a variety of courses including the Research Process, Decision Sciences, Information Systems Management, Information Technology and Business Strategy, Information Technology, Governance, Operations Management, Electronic Commerce, Database Management, Systems Analysis and Design, Software Development and Statistical Analysis.

He established the Professional Services Unit (PSU) with the objective of diversifying the revenue streams of the School thereby placing less reliance on graduate degree tuition fees. This Unit has been extremely successful in fulfilling this mandate through executive education, customised training and management consulting. The Unit has also strengthened relationships between Mona School of Business and Management and, by extension the wider University, and the business community. He also established the Centre of Excellence (CoE) for IT-enabled innovation. The work of this unit has also built relationships with the business 3 community locally and internationally and has been at the forefront of advocacy and research in Open Development approaches. He is a founding member of the Caribbean Open Institute – the regional hub in the global Open Data for Development Network.

In addition to these administrative roles in the School and Faculty, Professor Duggan served the wider UWI community. This service included: Academic Board Representative to the University Senate (2012- 2016), Member of the University Council (2011-2016), Member of the Board of Directors of Universal Media Company (NewsTalk 93FM), Member of the Mona Campus Council (2008-2016), Member of the Finance and General-Purpose Committee (F&GPC) (2011-2016), Member of the Advisory Board for the Centre for Tourism and Policy Research (2010-2016), UWI-Mona representative on the Steering Committee to Establish the UWI Competitiveness Centre (2010- 2013),UWI representative on the CARICOM ICT Sub-committee on ICT Statistics (2007-2012) and a Member of the Campus Committee for Graduate Studies (2007-2008).

His international academic reputation is based on his outstanding research and publications record. This is further demonstrated by his appointments to the editorial boards of several international journals and his ability to network with international scholars in the field of Information Systems and their willingness to support and contribute to his initiatives for example the delivery of the PhD in Information System and Doctor of Business Administration programmes.

Professor Duggan’s stellar performance did not go unnoticed. His research output includes one refereed book, eight book chapters, twenty journal articles and over twenty refereed conference proceedings as well as other non-refereed publications. It should be noted that Information Systems conference proceedings are most often refereed and acceptance is based on the submission of a full paper. His research expertise has also been recognised locally as he was involved in the preparation of a significant report entitled “E-Powering Jamaica: The National ICT Strategic Plan 2007-2012” for the Government of Jamaica’s Central Information Technology Office (CITO), Ministry of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce. Professor Duggan also received a number of Faculty of Social Sciences Research Awards including:

• Best Research Publication (2018)
• Research Project Attracting The Most Research Funds (2018) 4
• Principal’s Award for the Project with the Greatest Multidisciplinary Cross Faculty Collaboration (2015); and
• Research Project with the Greatest Business/Economic/Development Impact (2013).

His positions on the editorial boards of recognised international journals include:
• Associate Editor, Communications of the Association for Information Systems
• Section Editor, African Journal of Information Systems
• Editorial Advisory Board Member, Journal of Organizational and End User Computing
• Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Information Technology Project Management • Global Editorial Advisory Review Board Member, Idea Group Inc. Publishing Company
• International Editorial Review Board Member, Advances in End User Computing (Book Series)

He has also reviewed manuscripts for a number of other international journals on an ad hoc basis.

His contribution in terms of the criterion public service has been significant. He has sat on a number of boards including National Commercial Bank Insurance Company (NBCIC) (2013-2016), Jamaica Public Service Company (2012-2015), Jamaica Diaspora Foundation (2009-2016), UWI Solutions for Developing Countries (UWISODECO) (2012- ) and the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) (2013-2016). He was Chairman of the Board of Directors for both eGOV Jamaica Ltd (2013-2016) and is currently the chairman of SynCon Technologies Ltd, a position he has held since 2008. He was a member of the Board of Trustees and a Faculty and Research Affiliate of the ICT University (a US-based institution providing quality ICT and human capacity development specifically targeted for Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia (2011), a member of the Governing Council of National Commercial Bank’s Corporate Learning Campus (2008-2016), and a member of CARICOM Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) subcommittee on ICT Statistics (2007-2012). His exemplary service to local and international development has elevated the profile of The UWI and helped to strengthen relationships with the business community.

Professor Evan Duggan’s outstanding contributions to University life in a variety of spheres have included the areas of teaching and learning, administration, research and publications and public service make him an excellent candidate for this designation. Based on his outstanding performances in all aspects of his professional career, the title of “Professor Emeritus” was conferred upon him by The UWI, Mona.



CMU extends application period for admissions

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The Caribbean Maritime University has extended the application period for undergraduate admission to June 30, 2020 in response to calls by prospective students who have undergone several challenges amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Since May, the University has received an influx of queries from prospective students requesting an extension of the application deadline. The decision to extend the deadline was ‘very important’ according to University Registrar Dr. Mark Broomfield.

“Even though we are in a health crisis, there are still students who wish to start their academic journey at the tertiary level,” he said. “So, it was a very important decision taken by the University to allow these students an opportunity to pursue their goals.” 

While students are still able to apply, the University has started the acceptance process from a pool of persons who applied early, with additional candidates expected to be admitted throughout June.

Despite the global health crisis, the CMU is working to ensure that, where admission services in particular are concerned, students are as minimally affected as possible. “We are committed to ensuring that disruptions outside students’ control will not negatively impact their application and admission to the University,” said Dr. Broomfield. “The Admission Department is continuing to process applications and release offers of admission based on academic results available to date.”

Females comprise 62% of applicants thus far, compared with 51% last year and 46% the year before.  With this increase in the percentage of female applicants this year, second-year CMU engineering student Stephane Roberts hopes more women will take the dive into careers which have traditionally been dominated by men. “It would be great to see more women enrolling in the engineering programme here at CMU,” Stephane said. “It is very rigorous, but it prepares you well for the world of work.”

So far, the applicants include students come from all 14 parishes along with international prospects.

Over the last few years, the University has received close to 5000 applications each year.

To apply now, please click the link here

CMU alumnus finds pleasure in assisting healthcare workers

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Just a year ago, Brandon Hay graduated from the Caribbean Maritime University with big plans to establish his own business empire which includes a restaurant and a logistics company.

Fast forward to today, Brandon’s thriving Chinese take-out, Flamin Wok’, is among the many restaurants around the globe providing meals to healthcare workers who are actively fighting against the spread of the coronavirus.

“It was a fulfilling experience,” said Brandon, speaking about his coordinated food delivery to healthcare workers based at the Southern Regional Health Authority in Junction, St. Elizabeth. An initiative that was driven by one main instinct—to give back to those putting their lives at risk. “I really just wanted to thank our healthcare workers for getting up and going to work each morning, by giving them specially prepared meals from my restaurant.”

Many of those on the receiving end, work long hours at one of the busiest health care facility in St. Elizabeth.

“It is a busy Health Centre with a lot of visiting patients, so I had to ensure that the delivery was seamless, therefore, transport coordination was important” he explained. An aspect of his job that he believes he excels at, and naturally so, Brandon is a trained logistician, who earned his degree in logistics and supply chain management at the CMU.

“We do mainly take-outs, so I have to manage the supply chain process, to ensure that customers receive their orders on time,” he shared.

Currently, Brandon employs three additional persons. But like many other restaurant owners, he is grappling with uncertainty and the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on business operation. “All over the world restaurants and bars are closing their doors trying to limit the spread of the coronavirus,” he expressed. And given how widespread the current health crisis is, he said, “there is no guarantee when restaurant owners will be able to resume regular operations.”

Speaking about the impact of coronavirus on his business, Brandon said despite the financial setback, he remains optimistic. “There is no doubt that business has slowed since the outbreak, with fewer people choosing to eat out. But I am remaining optimistic that the situation will improve, not just for myself as a business owner, but for my employees, who themselves rely on the income to take care of their families,” Brandon told us.

Flamin Wok’ is a Chinese take-out located in Junction, St. Elizabeth.

Covid 19 and Independent Learning at the Tertiary Level

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It is no doubt that we are all currently living through challenging times. I’m hard-pressed to find anyone or anything that remains unaffected, even in a minute way, by this novel viral infection. In the wake of this pandemic we have all learned what we can and cannot do remotely.

As it relates to independent, active learning, whereas some countries are well ahead of the game, I am not certain if we in the largest English-speaking Caribbean country were, or are ready. Notwithstanding, I must commend the leaders of our prestigious tertiary institutions for quickly reacting to the crisis using the best means at their disposal. Some of our universities already had well established e-learning platforms whereas others were in their piloting phase. However, technological challenges aside, the crisis begs the question, are our students ready to learn on their own? Honestly, the answer concerning the majority of our university students would be a deafening no!

Is it the type of students enrolled? Is it our teaching style? I do not believe there is a panacea to this problem. And it would be foolish to think that this is a linear issue. It is a rather complex issue that comprises contributing factors that include: test taking skills, learning style, teaching style, aptitude, attitude and other socioeconomic factors. It is sad to observe that students who are growing up in such a technologically savvy era are indeed more lackadaisical than those of us who had less devices to assist us. These students who will readily utilize the Google search engine to find the answer for an assignment, seem incapable of utilizing the same engine when trying to submit an assignment, as a file that is too large to attach to an email.

No, I am not writing to lament about the students and their laisse faire attitude to learning. Neither am I solely blaming our educators. I believe the proverbial writing is on the wall. We need to objectively review our teaching styles in a manner that is more supportive of independent, online learning. A concept that, upon its inception was shunned, but now is the one tool we have in the toolbox. We need to find constructive ways in which we can gradually put learning back into the hands of those to whom it rightfully belongs…the student. It is my hope that out of this pandemic, and our race to stay ahead of the curve we are trying desperately to flatten, that concrete and feasible best practices will arise. The use of technology in learning has long been meandering its way into our classrooms. It is time to give it a place of prominence and nurture innovative, critically thinking, well rounded brilliant global citizens that will become the next generation of Nobel prize winners. It will not be easy, but neither is it impossible. Stay safe, stay smart and RESEARCH!

Time to deploy war assets to save lives

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A number of countries to include Russia and the United States have built up significant military assets to fight wars which have killed not only soldiers in battle, but innocent civilians. Other countries have followed those great powers and have developed significant military capabilities also. The pandemic Covid-19, which is posing the greatest threat to humanity in a generation requires a vast amount of resources to help in its containment. We have seen the death toll in Europe, Asia and North America and there is no end in sight for the spread of this deadly virus and the death of citizens. The crises have overrun hospital capacity and in some countries, people are just waiting to die. This lack of capacity and capability is taking place amid the largest built- up of military assets since World War II. The present situation has been classified by the President of the United States and others as a “War”, which in fact it is. If Covid-19 is a war, then the urgency of the moment beckons us into immediate action to deploy war assets to contain its spread. Those battleships are ideally suited to become floating hospitals to save lives. Sail them now in the war against Covid-19.


Author: Assan Thompson, Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, JCF 

Head of Department             

Centre for Security, Counter terrorism and Non-Proliferation, CSCTN                             

Caribbean Maritime University




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The Caribbean Maritime University today announces that its Centre for Digital Innovation & Advanced Manufacturing (CDIAM) will enlist its entire 3D Printing Fleet, its filament stock and engineering expertise to fight COVID-19.

Established in November 2017, the Centre for Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing at the Caribbean Maritime University is the region’s Centre of Excellence for Additive Manufacturing technology and expertise.

“The Caribbean Maritime University is pleased to join the fight against  COVID-19,” says Erica Simmons, Executive Director at the Centre for Digital Innovation & Advanced Manufacturing (CDIAM) at the CMU, “The team has been preparing for a moment like this for over 2 years, we are ready to serve our nation and to provide our expertise at this critical time.”

With immediate effect, the CDIAM will begin to manufacture personal protective headgear which will be delivered to the Ministry of Health to be donated to healthcare professionals across Jamaica. 3D printing or additive printing technology, allows for the development objects using a digital computer aided design file and various printing materials. The materials used in 3D printing include several types of polymers, metals, and ceramics.  With over 20 Additive Technology machines of various levels, the CDIAM has been leading the push into this new manufacturing method.

The CDIAM has also been asked to join countrywide initiatives that aim to increase the collaboration at the Tertiary level between the universities.  In essence pooling our knowledge, technology and resources across all the institutions to tackle the nations challenges.

“The moment of true disruption in here” said Mrs. Simmons “We knew disruption was on the way, but never could we have imagined this.  However, from the ashes will rise a phoenix.  Now is the time for Jamaica to start reimaging our world, and commit to creating a fully digitally-savvy, innovation-driven society”.

For more information about 3D Printing at the CDIAM Follow us on Instagram at @cdiamja or visit our website at

Education during and after Covid 19!

By | CMU News, Uncategorized

In the space of a few fleeting days, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has reshaped society in lasting ways. A global, novel virus that keeps us confined in our abodes—maybe for months—is already reorienting our relationship to government, to the outside world, even to each other. Every facet of society’s quintessential operation has been affected, and Schooling is no exception. Certainly, COVID-19 has altered how students are educated around the world and those changes give us a glimpse of how education could change for the better – or worse – in the long term.

With the coronavirus spreading rapidly across the globe, many countries have taken swift and decisive actions to mitigate the advancement of the full-blown pandemic. Jamaica has undeniably become a yardstick for other countries in this regard. In the past two weeks, there have been multiple announcements suspending attendance at schools and universities. As of March 17, the OECD estimated that more than 421 million children worldwide are affected due to school closures announced or implemented in over 39 countries.

These risk-control decisions have led millions of students into temporary ‘home-schooling’ situations, especially in some of the most heavily impacted countries, like China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. These changes have surely caused a degree of inconvenience, but they have also prompted new examples of ‘Educational Innovation’ if you will. Although it is too early to judge how reactions to COVID-19 will influence education systems around the world, there are indicators suggesting that it could have an enduring impact on the trajectory of learning innovation and digitization.

In a weird way, as far as Education goes, COVID-19 has forced us to act as paragons of the 21st century by discovering and embracing more technologically intensive methodologies of teaching, such as digital distance learning. Many studies suggest that these virtual means of schooling optimize schools’ outputs through greater use of information and communications technology (ICT).

If nothing else, the lesson I hope we take from the rapid spread of COVID-19 in an educational regard, is the importance of building resilience in our Education system to tackle various threats, from pandemic disease to climate insecurity, and yes, even, rapid technological change. The pandemic is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of the skills students need in this erratic world such as informed decision making, creative problem solving, and perhaps above all, adaptability. To ensure those skills remain a priority for all students, resilience must be built into our educational systems as well.

We must work together to ensure that resilience is built into our Education system, so that no child is left behind, whether it’s behind a desk at school, or in front of a screen at home!

Nahjae Nunes is a third-year student at the Caribbean Maritime University. Nahjae is a United Nations Youth Ambassador and occupies executive positions within several youth development organizations.