On December 5, 2012 the JAMPACT Speaker Series featured New York University professor, Dr. Jacquiline Matthis. Dr. Matthis gave an inspiring analysis of the economic benefits of investing in early childhood education (ECE), and the importance of organizations like JAMPACT in facilitating such investments from individuals, especially within the Diaspora.
Among Dr. Matthis' key points, the ECE investments typically yield greater economic returns than any other public sector investments (even when considering factors such as greater adult labor force participation, higher incomes, tax revenues, lower crime, and higher levels of maternal employment; in addition to the direct hiring, purchasing and construction necessary for delivering ECE services). Dr. Matthis pointed out that, according to a study conducted by economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and the University of Chicago, $1 of every ECE investment yields approximately $13 to the public in the US, and that the return would be greater for less developed nations such as Jamaica. This is largely due to Jamaica's current lowered level of access to ECE. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), only 43% of Jamaicans aged zero to five years currently have access to ECE (Dr. Matthis acknowledged that the UNESCO count is merely based on the population that lives within a certain distance to a functioning basic school, irrespective of attendance, and that practically speaking the level of access is much lower).
Citing another study of students from the High/Scope Perry School beginning 1962-1967 and concluding 2002-2007, Dr. Matthis went on to highlight the harsh reality that children who are denied quality ECE generally "never catch up," as their level of educational attainment, overall financial stability, and likelihood of avoiding criminal involvement generally decrease by age forty. Dr. Matthis pointed out that, given the relatively limited resources available within the Jamaican government, reasonably rapid improvement in ECE access and quality will depend on organizations that provide channels for individual contribution and involvement to advance ECE development.
Lastly, Dr. Matthis presented key arguments outlining the importance of our [JAMPACT] work for Jamaica's economic and social development, challenging us not only to carry on this work, but to highlight the outsized potential impact on our society of even small financial contributions.