Jamaican Officials Turn Attention to Battle Against Slavery

By: Ian Van Buren

Recently, the 2013 Global Slavery Index was released. The index reveals accurate estimates of the amount of slavery that exists around the world, listing the number of enslaved people by country. The index lists India as No. 1, the largest offender, with 13.9 million people living under conditions of slavery. In terms of prevalence, Mauritania tops the list with 151,000 people living as slaves – nearly 4% of the country’s total population of 3.8 million. Haiti follows with 209,000 of its 10 million residents living under such conditions.

Of the 162 countries measured by the Global Slavery Index, Jamaica ranks far down the list at 124, and is recorded as having 2,400 enslaved of its 2.7 million people. Although that number is low, many people like Danny Roberts, head of the Trade Union Educational Institute at the University of the West Indies is upset that the issue exists, and that Jamaica fares worse in the category than most of its neighboring countries like Barbados or Cuba.

“I am certainly not happy with the status of our ranking, which clearly indicates that much more work has to be done in terms of dealing with human trafficking and the exploitation of our children, which are the two areas of concern,” Roberts said.

The Global Slavery Index classifies victims of modern slavery as anyone who has their freedoms denied and are used, controlled and exploited by another person for profit, sex or the thrill of domination. The index explains that modern slavery is different, takes many forms and is represented by human trafficking, forced labor, slavery or slavery-like practices, forced or servile marriage, or the sale and exploitation of children, including modern conflicts.

Many agree that targeting the problem starts with improving the lives and culture of Jamaica’s children. The Youth and Culture Minister, Lisa Hanna, has promised a United Nations Committee that special attention will be directed toward child exploitation.

Hanna told a United Nations Third Level Committee on the Rights of the Child, with focus placed squarely on breaking the back of the problem, that a ministerial team has been pursuing a policy-based agenda committed to the transformation of the culture of how the society cares for and protects children.

The minister said that the country’s child-protection actions are contained in the emerging National Framework of Action for Children 2012-2017. “It speaks to the responsibility of the State, as well as the seminal role to be played by parents,” Hanna said.

The 2013 Global Slavery Index:


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Reggae and Film Industries Struggling

By: Abby Belongy

While Jamaica is known for its Reggae music, the industry does not reap the economic benefits from its popularity.  Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, warns that Jamaican musicians need to start taking the business more seriously.  Citing research by Dr. Carolyn Cooper, Ndombet-Assamba insists that the artists focus too much on the music and neglect the financial aspect.  As another researcher, Sharma Taylor, points out, Jamaicans can capitalize more on copyright laws, but they currently either do not care enough or are not well informed.  This leads to mostly foreign companies owning Reggae music rights, which hurts the industry and deprives the Jamaican economy of benefitting from one of its most popular attributes.

While the government stresses the importance of the Reggae industry, it seems to ignore the film industry all together.  Workers in the film industry, as in Reggae, care greatly about their art, but they also recognize its economic importance.  Over 60 major members of the industry took to the camera to vocalize their disproval of the Jamaican government in denying foreign and domestic film opportunities (see video above).  The video ends with a shocking statistic: over $801 million dollars has been lost due to missed opportunities.  This impedes Jamaica’s chances to strengthen connections and working relationships with other countries throughout the world.

For the Jamaican economy to truly strive, Reggae musicians need to protect their rights and the government needs to protect its film industry.





Jamaicans Not Losing Jobs To Immigrants


By Ian Van Buren

At a news conference on September 5, Labor and Social Security Minister Derrick Kellier explained that work permits were not being given out to international (mostly Chinese) workers over Jamaicans. “The business of permits falls under the control of the Ministry of Labour and we do administer a rigorous regime in this regard; in doing so we take an account of certain conditionalities such as investment, economic growth and employment opportunities,” Kellier said. Jamaica is in the midst of economic turmoil, and cannot afford to allow its already staggering unemployment rate to continue to rise.

During the period of April 2012 to July 2013, there were 4,098 work permits distributed by Kellier’s department. Of those 4,098 permits, 1,741 (43 percent) were issued to Chinese nationals. Jamaican workers, especially those searching for work, were very upset over this news, however Kellier and his ministry insist that job postings must be advertised locally so that Jamaicans have the first opportunity in filling positions.

Kellier also explained that locals should understand that the high number of Chinese nationals working on the island is a measure of Chinese investment. “In other words, qualified and skilled Jamaicans are always given preference over foreigners. Jamaica is constantly in search of investments and in fact one of the major priorities of government is to promote and encourage investments that have the potential not only for economic growth but also for employment opportunities.”

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Jamaica’s poor education reflected by GMAT scores



By Ian Van Buren

Jamaicans wishing to pursue a business degree at a respected university will have to fight an uphill battle. Jamaica ranks 119th globally with an average GMAT score of 434 out of 800. The global average score is 498.50. Respected GMAT coach and founder of Versan Educational Services Sandra Bramwell blames the island’s poor English foundation for it’s low scores. The GMAT tests for Math and English, and even non-English speaking countries are scoring higher than Jamaica. It doesn’t end there. Regionally, Jamaica has a lower average score than Barbados (511), Trinidad (495), Guyana (457), and even the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic (450).

It will be a difficult for the island turn scores around considering that their economy continues to struggle. The Jamaican dollar has hit a record low when last week it broke J$102 against the U.S. dollar. Although test scores are alarmingly low, Jamaica has produced some successful students like Jo-Anne Jackson-Stephens, who was accepted to Oxford University’s MBA program. Jackson-Stephens scored higher than 84% of individuals worldwide who took the GMAT. Another issue is attracting successful MBA graduates like Jackson-Stephens back to Jamaica. “I have opted to stay overseas because I think it is important for my professional growth as an attorney-at-law and aspiring entrepreneur to get international exposure. The crime and the economy in Jamaica are also factors,”  she said. In order to turn the economy around, it’s no mistake that Jamaica must make a significant investment to fund it’s educational system so that it can return contributions in the form of economic growth. How the State will allocate its resources for such an investment is the real equation.
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Not-good-for-business_14913252#ixzz2dBjqNBBF