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JIS News

Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, is encouraging children not to be afraid to stand up for themselves and their rights, but to speak up and be heard.

“As children, your voice is important and it is not only important to your parents, it is important to people like me (as Youth Minister), so that anything we do as a Government we can do it with you in mind,” Ms. Hanna said.

She was addressing students of the Craighton Primary School in St. Andrew on Wednesday, June 19, at their Girls and Boys Day/Career Day event.

The Minister told the students to speak out and tell their teacher if anyone, including family members abuses them, whether emotionally, physically or sexually, encouraging them to report such mistreatment even if they are threatened.

She also advised them not to take personally, some of the things said to them by their parents or caregivers, as adults are sometimes stressed and frustrated, and may lash out unintentionally.

Ms. Hanna, in the meantime, praised principal of the school, Fabian Mahabeer for the work he has been doing at the over 200-year old institution, which is located in the Irish Town District of Gordon Town.

Mr. Mahabeer told JIS News that the approximately 200 students enrolled at the school, hail from the communities of Red Light, Middleton, Irish Town, Gordon Town, Papine, and as far away as Allman Town in Kingston.
He noted that there have been many improvements at the school over the years, not only in terms of infrastructure development but also in retaining students.

“In 2010 when I started (here), we had 60-odd students. Now we are approximately 200. So we try to put that infrastructure in place and try to sell the school and make it marketable so parents will see it as a viable option instead of sending the students all the way to Kingston…so now they are coming back,” he said.

He said that the institution is challenged by space constraints, but informed that the Ministry of Education has completed the blueprint for a new classroom block including a canteen.

Mr. Mahabeer also commended the input of private stakeholders such as GraceKennedy Foundation, Strawberry Hill, Ueshima Coffee Company(UCC), as well as past students.

Sharing his vision for the school for the next 10 years, the principal stated his intention to make it the best primary school that Jamaica has to offer, both in terms of infrastructure and academics.

“We would have completed our development plan. We would have had most things in place for it to be an ideal primary school – a centre of excellence for others to see and want to emulate in all areas, not just in academics, but (with) well-rounded students,” he stated.

Contact: Alecia Smith-Edwards