JIS News

I am very happy that on one of my early public duties as Prime Minister of Jamaica pertains to this matter that is close to my heart. The education of our people is of fundamental importance as we pursue our quest of a peaceful and prosperous nation.
I want to thank the Jamaica Social Investment Fund for bringing hope to so many communities across Jamaica. You have shown us that it is possible to mobilize communities in a partnership for development. I want to commend you for having this contract signed today.
I am even happier that this signing is taking place here and among a people who are my very heart-beat. South West St. Andrew is not just a constituency. It is not just a place with geographical boundaries. It represents much more than that. South St. Andrew is a place of potential and possibility.
I believe that every political representative irrespective of party affiliation agrees that early childhood education must be given special attention if we are to significantly improve the outputs of the education sector. As former Prime Minister Patterson said at the launch of Operation Strive in 1996 “the years between birth and early childhood education are the most critical period in the development of the child, since emotional control, intelligence, personality, social behaviour, skills and vocabulary are largely established before the child goes to basic school.”
If we can provide the standard of education this is required at this level, there would be no need to do the level of corrective work that we are now doing at the primary and secondary levels. The Government recognizes this and has committed itself to transforming the education system from this level. We know that the standard of our people’s education is directly related to our human development.
Jamaica is part of a global village where it is easy to travel, do business and communicate with the rest of the world. Our people, including you in South West St. Andrew, must be in a position to relate to people from anywhere in world with pride and confidence.
Yes, you are poor today but if you plant a seed in the heart of your children and if you water that seed and nurture it, your community can be like any strong, united and prosperous community anywhere in the world. We can decide that out of this place will come our lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, scientists and entrepreneurs. You must believe in your heart that you are just as good as the person who achieves his full potential and that your destiny is in your hands.
This signing, which will result in the construction of the Care Bear Basic School, is just a start. But we are starting at the right place, which is the pre-primary level. One hundred and ten (110) children and five teachers will benefit directly. However, the entire community will benefit as parents will be confident that their children will be accommodated in a proper learning environment.
Your contribution to the building of this school demonstrates your own commitment to the education and future of your children.
The great hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey said that “there may be good grounds for a common education of all groups in a community such as civic education, political and social education, but education that teaches man how to live to the highest and enjoy the best, is particular education and that particular education is always reserved for those who want to gain an advantage”.
It does not matter what structure I put here. It does not matter the level of investment that is made here you have to “want to gain an advantage” to make the best use of it. I have a dream that my people of South West St. Andrew and indeed, all of the people of Jamaica will one day walk at a happy pace in the corridors of the universe with peoples from all over the world.
You need to help me fulfill this dream. You have an obligation to protect this school, the children and the teachers. You have an obligation to ensure that every child will be free to walk at a happy pace to and from school every day.
You have an obligation to ensure that they can sleep at nights. That the threatening clouds of fear do not keep them awake at nights; that their happy laughter will ring out in the streets; that you form a protective arm around them that keeps them safe and secure.
Your success in managing projects and completing them on time and within budget is exemplary. I believe that this is one institution that demonstrates that our people can be trusted with charting their own destiny. What they need is guidance and support.
I know that your record of excellence will continue in South West St. Andrew. I am confident that the people in this community will rise to the challenge and work shoulder to shoulder for the benefit of their children.
Education will give you and your children the keys of independence and love. Those keys will turn your poverty into wealth, your despair into hope your self doubt into confidence. Those keys will open the doors of the world to you. And most of all, they will unlock your heart to freedom, peace and love.
Remember the words of Marcus Garvey. None of this will happen unless you want to gain an advantage “to live to the highest and enjoy the best”.
I thank you.

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