JIS News

Prime Minister P.J. Pattersonhas said that the pending changes to the education system, which would begin this school year, were designed to equip Jamaica to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.”Having identified education and training as priority for national development, we have ensured that our budget this year provides the resources for a major transformation of our education and training system,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Patterson, who was the guest of honour at the grand Independence ball held at the New York Hilton & Towers Hotel on August 13, said that the process to revolutionize the education sector would include changes to the school curriculum, improvements to physical plant and classroom space, and introducing an e-learning project.
He noted that the project would require significant funding and the government has since borrowed $5 billion from the National Housing Trust (NHT) to initiate the process.
Stressing that, “education will provide the knowledge and skills we need to survive in a competitive global environment,” Mr. Patterson used the occasion to acknowledge the work of the many past students’ associations in North America and invited “the entire Jamaican community overseas to become a part of our programme to create a first rate education system rooted in modern technology for all Jamaican children”.
In a wide-ranging address, at times light-hearted, Prime Minister Patterson highlighted a number of developments to enhance the process of democracy in Jamaica, including the increased facilitation of freedom of speech through the new Access to Information Act.
On the economic front, he pointed to record levels of foreign direct investment, which has placed Jamaica among the best performers in Latin America and the Caribbean; zero debt obligation to the International Monetary Fund and the hosting of the World Cup of Cricket in 2007.
He also mentioned the creation of a Ministerial portfolio with responsibility for the Jamaican Diaspora; the development of Jamaican Lifestyle Villages, which are upscale housing estates with ready access to high quality health services for retirees and Jamaicans returning home; his impending retirement from active politics and the anticipation of his replacement.
Prime Minister Patterson also called on Jamaicans in the Diaspora to start a crusade aimed at highlighting more of the positives about Jamaicans worldwide.
In his welcome, Consul General Dr. Basil K. Bryan noted that this year’s event “symbolizes the longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship between Jamaica and the United States (US), as well as the significant contributions of Jamaicans and those of Jamaican heritage to the development” of the US.
Seven individuals were honoured with the Consul General’s Award for their outstanding contribution, commitment and compassion to their community and country.
They are: Tony Best (Journalism), for his objective reporting on key issues impacting the Caribbean-American community; Georgia Dunn (Jamaican Consulate), for her outstanding contribution to the Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations and the Jamaican community in the Tri-State area; Winston G. Laylor (Government), for dedicated service to the Jamaican community in Bermuda where he is serving as Honorary Consul; Bishop Dr. Cecil G. Riley (Religion), for outstanding leadership in the community; Edith R. Smith (West Portland Association), for her steadfast commitment to the upliftment of the Jamaican community; Winston L. Stewart (KCOBA/UJAA), for outstanding work in the development of educational opportunities and George S. Willie (CEO, Bert Smith & Co), for professional achievement and philanthropy.
The gala started with a procession of the national flags of Jamaica and the United States by a joint team from the US National Guard and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). The anthems of both countries were also played.
Some 1,200 patrons from 20 states and six countries attended the elegant black tie affair celebrating Jamaica’s 43rd anniversary of Independence. Included were members of the Caribbean diplomatic corps and heads of Jamaican-owned corporations in the US. Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires Band provided entertainment.
The gala, which climaxed two weeks of Independence celebrations in the tri-state area, will benefit the Boys’ Town Foundation (Kingston), Copse Place of Safety (Hanover) and the Windsor Girls Home (St. Ann), among other charities.