Distance education, utilising a variety of media for the delivery of educational programmes at various levels, is a viable alternative or complement to traditional education. In recognition of the growth and importance of distance education in meeting some of the educational needs of the country, the Ministry of Education and Culture took the initiative in establishing an association of distance education providers in Jamaica.
The establishment of JADOL was spearheaded by former Chief Education Officer, Mr. Wesley Barrett, who in 1999 organised a steering committee to carry out the necessary groundwork. Chaired by Mr. Barrett, the members of the steering committee were: Dr. Nancy George, University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech); Dr. Randolph Watson, Bethlehem Moravian College; Mr. Karlem Mair, Church Teachers’ College; Mr. Enos Brown, HEART/NTA; Mrs. Jackie Cousins, Media Services Unit, Ministry of Education and Culture; Ms. Christine Marrett and Dr. Carmeta Tate-Blake, University of the West Indies Distance Education Centre (UWIDEC).
Two working groups were formed: Ms. Vilma McClenan (UWIDEC), Mr. Seymour Riley of the Jamal Foundation Ltd., Dr. Randolph Watson, and Mr. Wesley Barrett drafted the JADOL constitution after reviewing the those of other distance education associations. A second group, comprised of Dr. George, Dr. Tate-Blake, Mrs. Cousins, and Dr. Claude Packer of Mico Teachers’ College, developed a survey on the use of educational media for distance education and/or open learning. However, the necessary financial support to conduct the survey did not materialise.
Dr. Dennis Irvine, former Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Advisor on the Caribbean, provided valuable input to the work of the steering committee.
JADOL was launched on July 27, 2000 by the then Minister of Education and Culture, Senator the Honourable Burchell Whiteman, during the opening of the UWIDEC conference on Distance Education in Small States . The inaugural meeting, which was chaired by Mr. Wesley Barrett, was held on September 1, 2000, at which time membership applications and fees were received and the draft constitution reviewed by those present. Suggestions of changes to the draft constitution were made. The election of officers and ratification of the constitution was held October 27, 2000.