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SHARING THE LOVE: Mineral Heights Smart Room

Five-minute feature on acts of kindness by local or overseas based non-government individuals and organisations that have benefitted Jamaicans.

00:00 / 04:53

Written and produced by the Radio Department of the Jamaica Information Service

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News for Week of July 16, 2023
We are here to inspire, motivate and uplift.

OCT-DEC 2022

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Jamaica to develop National AI Policy

The Government is forming an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Task Force, whose main functions will be to conduct research in the area and provide an evidence-based foundation for developing a National AI Policy.

Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister Senator Dr Dana Morris Dixon made the disclosure during her contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate on Friday (July 14).

“The Task Force’s research will comprehensively analyse the current state of AI in Jamaica, including research and development activities, adoption levels, and challenges faced by various sectors of the economy,” Senator Morris Dixon said.

She noted that the Task Force is also expected to identify opportunities for adopting AI technologies, potential economic growth and development areas, and potential social impacts.

“We must understand the risks and implement the necessary safeguards to allow us to respond to the rapid rate of technology change and to, ultimately, scale with confidence,” the Minister emphasised.

In the meantime, Senator Morris Dixon said a critical component of the digital thrust must be a Central Authority for digital services.

She noted that the Information and Communications Technology Authority Act has already been passed, “and we need to make that alive”.

“What is envisioned in the ICT Authority is more people so that we can deliver more services, so it is very important that we set up this entity. It is very important that we select a Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Jamaica and that is a priority that has to happen before the end of this year,” Senator Morris Dixon said.

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MAY-JUN 2022

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New minister bats for technical training

Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with oversight for Skills and Digital Transformation Senator Dr. Dana Morris Dixon has said that investment in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is “absolutely critical” to Jamaica’s future.


Speaking at the HEART/NSTA Trust World Youth Skills Day forum at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew on Friday (July 14), Senator Morris Dixon said TVET needs to be destigmatised.


“In many instances, people see TVET as for individuals who didn’t go down an academic route, and it is seen as second-rate, when it is not, because if we look at skills globally, that’s where the world is going; that’s where money is,” she noted.


The Human Employment and Resource Training/National Service Training Agency Trust (HEART/NSTA Trust) is Jamaica’s leading human capital development agency.


Noting that there is a global shortage of skilled workers, Minister Morris Dixon explained that these skills need to have significant technology embedded in them.


“There are many opportunities in skills, but we don’t talk about it and that’s what we have to do a lot more of. We have the talent in Jamaica; we probably haven’t exposed it enough. I also think we have to reach the parents because a lot of our parents really do feel that you have to go down this [academic] route,” she said.


In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared July 15 as World Youth Skills Day to celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.


World Youth Skills Day 2023 is being celebrated under the theme ‘Skilling Teachers, Trainers and Youth for a Transformative Future’.

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Marital rape conditions to be removed from law

Eliminating the conditions for marital rape are among matters that will be addressed in the amendments to be made to the Offences Against the Person Act.


Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith explained that when the Act was passed in 2009, it provided for conditions to be met in order for a wife to claim rape.


“There are specific things that allow you to be able to claim that you were raped in marriage. It should not be that a married woman has less rights than an unmarried woman. Both of us should have the rights over our bodies, and that is what was agreed by the [Joint Select] Committee [which deliberated on the Act]. So, when the Act is amended, it will delete all the preconditions for a claim of marital rape. Again, it is about respect and the rights over our bodies,” she noted.


The Minister was addressing a regional conference on women’s political and parliamentary leadership in Kingston, where she outlined legislative measures being undertaken to protect women.


Among the conditions attached to the offence of marital rape in the Act are that:
•    the spouses have separated and live separate and apart as defined by the Matrimonial Cause Act;
•    there is in existence a separation agreement;
•    divorce or proceedings to nullify the marriage have been filed;
•    acts or threats of physical violence, harm or injury are imposed on a spouse before or during sex;
•    the spouse knowingly suffers from a sexually transmissible disease.


Senator Johnson Smith said the amendments to the Act would also include an offence of stalking so that women are protected outside of relationships. “If you are harassed by a stalker, that offence does not exist, and it needs to exist within the Offences Against the Person Act so that the Cybercrimes Act can criminalise it,” she added.

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Education minister points to progress in the sector

The report of the Jamaica Education Transformation Commission (JETC) has offered invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities in the education system, said Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams.
 

Describing the document as a “groundbreaking report”, the Minister said it sets the stage for a transformation that will uplift educators and every child, maximising their “unique talents and abilities in the process”.
Professor Orlando Patterson chaired the Commission.

 

“We have a profound responsibility to shape the minds and hearts of the next generation, equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and values they need to thrive in an ever-evolving world,” the Minister said while addressing a back-to-school conference.
 

The Minister emphasised that the positive shaping of young people “is not a task we take lightly,” as it is through education that the chains of poverty, ignorance, and inequality can be broken.
 

“Our journey towards education transformation has already begun. We have made significant strides in strengthening the foundational pillars of our educational ecosystem. We have invested in cutting-edge technology, embraced innovative teaching methodologies, and fostered a culture of inclusivity and diversity within our classrooms,” she said.
 

Mrs. Williams told the audience, mainly school principals, that together they must continue pushing the boundaries of possibility, relentlessly striving to create an education system that empowers every child to reach their full potential, and they must be the torchbearers of change as support for the transformation requires fostering a “culture of collaboration and partnership”.

Focus on Productivity, Not Technology

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By Dani Rodrik

CAMBRIDGE – Economists have long argued that productivity is the foundation of prosperity. The only way a country can increase its standard of living sustainably is to produce more goods and services with fewer resources. Since the Industrial Revolution, this has been achieved through innovation, which is why productivity has become synonymous, in the public imagination, with technological progress and research and development.

Our intuition about how innovation promotes productivity is shaped by everyday experience in business. Firms that adopt new technologies tend to become more productive, allowing them to outcompete technological laggards. But a productive society is not the same as a productive firm.

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