Schools Observe Jamaica Day On February 20


Approximately 300 primary and secondary schools across the island are making preparations for the celebration of ‘Jamaica Day’ this Friday, February 20, under the theme, ‘Up Ye Mighty People’. This is the first of three days to be observed in schools this year.
Hugh Douse, Director of the Culture in Education Programme in the Ministry of Education, Youth & Culture, told JIS News that Friday’s theme was chosen to sensitise young people in schools about the efforts that went into making Jamaica the country it was today.
“The North American penetration into our culture has really caused a great deal of fall out in terms of our children knowing a lot of the things that make us Jamaicans. It is a way to let our young people in particular, realize that we are a mighty people with regard to what we have done for our size and our years of independence,” he said.
With that, he noted, the recent naming of Jamaican-born, Mary Seacole as the ‘Greatest Black Briton’. Mary Seacole is well known for her role as a nurse in the Crimean War.
Mr. Douse pointed out that the staging of expositions, concerts, lectures and field trips were among the activities that schools sought to embark on in their celebrations.
“Students have not been paying enough visits to cultural institutions such as the Institute of Jamaica and the National Gallery, where much can be learnt about our country’s history and heritage. ‘Jamaica Day’ is a perfect opportunity for schools to organize trips to these establishments,” he stated.
The Director also encouraged schools to make use of local plays that were currently being shown in theatres. He cited examples such as ‘Christopher Cumbuckus’, ‘Combolo’ and ‘Bedward’, plays that depict aspects of the Jamaican story.
Mr. Douse said that students should also be exposed to ‘pep talks’ with local cultural icons in areas such as entertainment, business and sports. The appearances of such positive and successful individuals, he said, could help to instill feelings of pride and hope in young people.
He cited the Tivoli Gardens High and the St. Andrew Preparatory Schools as two of the more active schools participating in the day’s activities.
On Friday, the Tivoli Gardens High School will be hosting a group of 19 teachers and administrators from the United Kingdom, who are seeking to gain a better understanding of Jamaica’s culture and the education system, to aid their delivery to Jamaican students in the UK. They will be entertained with cultural presentations from the Tivoli Dancers and the Kingston Drummers. Sydney Bartley, Director at the Ministry’s Culture Division will also address them.
The St. Andrew Preparatory School will be holding a special devotion, where Mr. Douse will give a presentation.
‘Jamaica Day’ was established under the Culture in Education Programme in 2003 as a means of utilizing culture as the vehicle for social transformation. It was recognized that many young people do not understand what it is to be “Jamaican” or what is the Jamaican way of life.
“We want our young people to learn some of the things that make us Jamaicans, to learn the philosophies of Marcus Garvey, Louise Bennett, Bob Marley, Mary Seacole and others who have made great strides in society,” he noted.
Schools may contact the Culture Division at 967-4498 or 967-4975 for further information on the day’s activities.
‘Jamaica Day’ will again be observed in May and November later this year.

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