Othneil Blackwood

Othneil Blackwood – osvb2@cantab.ac.uk

I am a scholar-practitioner from Jamaica with an MPhil in Education from the University of Cambridge, where I studied how individuals and underserved communities can learn and grow through military schooling. As a civil servant in the Jamaican military for almost two decades, I have served in a lot of different roles, including infantry, special operations, and military education and training. My research interests include military education and training, leader development, and national security in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. As a leader, writer, and thinker, I am committed to uplifting Jamaica and making the world a better place for everyone.

In recent years, military schooling in Jamaica has expanded beyond its traditional purpose toward combating the nation’s crime problem, as it is increasingly entrusted with transforming young people, including some from vulnerable communities, into change leaders for a broader society. Considering that the majority of violent crime perpetrators and victims in Jamaica are adolescents (16 to 24 years old), it is believed that military schooling is a crucial component of the strategy to reduce the likelihood that this generation will engage in criminal activity; a current proposal would make military schooling mandatory for this age group.

While there are global bodies of research exploring the link between military schooling and the potential positive impact on youth development and engagement, very little is known about how military schooling prepares Jamaican youth for productive roles in society or how it aligns with organisational and national objectives. The purpose of my MPhil research was to analyse, using a case study approach, the military’s development of student change leaders in Jamaica in 2021–2022 and what these findings reveal about the utilisation of military schooling for Jamaica’s social transformation. This basis is built upon in three crucial ways by my PhD research: It begins by concentrating on the efficacy of various military schooling models. There is a need for greater research on the relative efficacy of different approaches to military schooling and the elements that contribute to their success or failure, even though some studies have examined the impact of particular training programs or curricula. Second, my research digs deeper into student experiences. There has been some research on military personnel in general, but more is needed to understand the unique challenges and opportunities that distinct student groups confront in military school and how these experiences affect their development and wellbeing. Third, the long-term outcomes of military schooling are examined by my research. Even though several studies have examined military schooling’s immediate effects, more research is needed on its long-term effects on livelihoods and civic participation. Numerous academics worldwide recommend researching both well-known and less-explored military school environments to better target reforms to these school models writ large.

In the context of the professionalisation of the Jamaican military, my research is a case study that could not only highlight the effects of military schooling on social transformation, but also contribute to a paradigm shift regarding the professional military education experience in the Caribbean. Synthesising and confirming empirical case study data on military schooling on a small developing island strengthens contextual understanding and educational research practice. This study’s toolkit can aid in evaluating similar contexts and military schooling’s efficacy, especially in understudied settings. Thus, these methodologies can encourage a more thoughtful and culturally sensitive approach to military school-based studies, and all stakeholders will be able to witness how military schooling transforms individuals, communities, and the military, demonstrating original knowledge. The findings may assist governments, organisations, communities, and individuals calibrate their contributions to social transformation goals and strategies.


Blackwood, O. S. V. (2022, October). “Triple R Leadership” as an Antidote to Chaos and Crisis: How We Can Strengthen our Thinking and Behaviour as Leaders in a Network Context. Alert Magazine, 16–22: https://online.fliphtml5.com/wzmhf/hdgq/

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