JAM | May 13, 2024

‘Financial literacy is the cornerstone of economic empowerment’ – Dr Marlene Street Forrest

/ Our Today

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Dr Marlene Street Forrest, managing director, Jamaica Stock Exchange, makes her presentation as the guest lecturer at the Inaugural Sybile Hamil Memorial Lecture held inside Lecture Theatre 50, Shared Facilities Building at the University of Technology, Jamaica, Papine Campus, on Thursday, May 9, 2024.

Managing director of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Dr Marlene Street Forrest has highlighted the critical role of financial literacy in facilitating economic empowerment.

She made the comments while delivering the keynote address at the inaugural Sybile Hamil Memorial Business Education Lecture (SHMBEL) at the University of Technology, Jamaica, on Thursday, May 9, 2024. The event was put on by the School of Technical and Vocational Education and held under the topic, “Fuelling the Growth Agenda: Business Education, Financial Literacy and Economic Resilience”.

Attributing Jamaica’s lack of growth in the past to the poor preparation of many students to enter the field of business, Dr Street Forrest stressed that “a well educated workforce equipped with practical business skills forms the bedrock of a vibrant economy.” She pointed to Finland and South Korea as models of countries where technical and vocational education, coupled with entrepreneurship, has fuelled significant economic growth.

She also outlined the need for Jamaicans to be equipped with both business and financial literacy to navigate the modern marketplace and achieve prosperity.

“Financial literacy serves as the cornerstone of economic empowerment,” she noted, pointing out that in Jamaica, population groups, in addition to being marked by a disparity in resources, also suffered from a disparity in financial knowledge.

Lower than desired levels of financial literacy, Street Forrest said, exacerbated social inequality. She stated that by emulating countries such as Singapore and Sweden, where high levels of financial literacy are correlated with economic stability, Jamaica could bridge the socio-economic divide.

She noted that with about 280,000 Jamaicans or 16 per cent of the adult population investing in the stock market, the country is already seeing the benefit of efforts to improve financial literacy, attributable to education outreach programmes put on by the JSE. These have helped more Jamaicans to make informed financial decisions that have helped to empower them economically, Dr Street Forrest said.

However, she pointed to the need for these efforts to be scaled up. She has called for financial literacy programmes to begin at the primary level, outlining the JSE’s own effort in that direction.

The JSE has launched a primary education digital game to help with financial literacy at that learning level. This effort builds on the business education curricula at the secondary and tertiary levels, she noted.

Street Forrest praised the foresight and pioneering work of Dr Hamil, who led the team in the 1970s that spearheaded the streamlining of business education in Jamaica and its offering across the secondary education system. The SHMBEL honours the pioneering work of Dr Sybile Hamil, who is credited with leading the drafting of the post-diploma technical education bachelor’s programme that was the institution’s first degree offering through the then College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST). This programme was accredited by the University Council of Jamaica and paved the way for CAST’s pursuit of university status.

Each year the Business Studies specialisation in SOTAVE and the Jamaica Business Education Association, will host the SHMBEL to shed light on emerging trends in business education and the link between business education and business practice to bolster economic development in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean


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