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A critical analysis of Jamaica's emerging educational policy discourses in the age of globalization

Nigel Olivia Michael Brissett, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation critically analyzes Jamaica’s educational policy responses to the alleged needs and promises of the current globalization era. The research focuses on policies being developed and implemented in the areas of educational governance, management, and financing. I argue that the emerging policy approaches, though intended to achieve liberatory goals, are generally having the unintended consequence of perpetuating disempowerment of low income Jamaicans. I use qualitative content analysis of policy documents as the primary analytic method. I employ postcolonial theory to historicize and contextualize Jamaica’s turbulent educational policy experience. I also draw on Foucauldian discourse theory in order to frame policy as discourse, which I define as an institutionalized way of thinking that governs and is reflected in both state policy rhetoric and practice. Here, I explicitly identify Jamaica’s emergent policy discourses as decentralized governance and education as investment and explore the internationalized norms and national economic constraints within which they develop. I analyze the ways in which neoliberal ideology partly drives these discourses and note their inconsistencies with much of the post-war/post-independence social welfare approaches that Jamaica used to address social asymmetries of colonialism. The contradictions are brought out by examining the changing relationship between the citizen and the state that the new policy approaches engender. In this regard, I interrogate the institutionalized practices and the newly proposed roles of educational stakeholders—the nation-state, the citizens, and institution—that the emerging discourses prescribe. The results show that the discourse of decentralized governance primarily fractures accountability, and education as investment increasingly predicates educational opportunity on capacity to pay. However, the intensity of these effects varies based on educational level, becoming more pronounced at the later stages. Key words: Jamaica, educational policy, policy discourse, post-colonialism, educational governance, educational management, educational financing, developing country.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Education Policy

Recommended Citation

Brissett, Nigel Olivia Michael, "A critical analysis of Jamaica's emerging educational policy discourses in the age of globalization" (2011). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3445151.