Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says the Diaspora is uniquely poised to play a dual role of supporting education, while helping with the growth of tourism.
Addressing the 24th annual fundraising scholarship gala and awards ceremony organised by Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO), on December 1, at the Hilton JFK Hotel in New York, Senator Reid said members of the Diaspora should use their vast influence to encourage universities and companies to choose Jamaica for educational seminars and academic research.
“Conventions and seminars comprise a large chunk of the travel and tourism market and Jamaica is keen on getting a fair slice of that market,” he said.
The Minister said members of the Diaspora “are key players in the thrust to educate our people to the highest standards and improve our economy to enable better living conditions, especially for the more vulnerable in our society.”
He pointed out that as technology develops, knowledge has emerged as the world’s largest industry and “we believe that with our climate, our range of visitor accommodations and facilities, such as the Montego Bay Convention Centre and the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, we have the ideal conditions to foster intellectual discourse and creative exploration.”
The Minister identified initiatives on which diaspora support is being sought, beyond the traditional areas of support, notably the National Education Trust (NET) and its Pledge2build initiative, in partnership with the Jamaican Diaspora Education Task Force (JDETF), JN Foundation and the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) to raise funds for capital improvement of early childhood and primary institutions across Jamaica.
The Minister said that tourism, now the leading industry in Jamaica under the leadership of Minister Edmund Bartlett, is playing its role in helping the country to provide the level of care for children to foster their growth and educational development.
“As the strongest pillar supporting gross domestic product, the Government looks to tourism for strong support in foreign exchange earnings and job creation,” he added.
In that connection, Senator Reid said the island’s high schools are providing valuable human capital to the vital tourism industry, through the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI).
Since its launch less than a year ago, the JCTI has certified some 450 hospitality workers, among them: hospitality educators, hospitality supervisors, chefs and culinarians.
He thanked COJO, which since 2012, has given scholarships to deserving wards of the State totaling over $15 million.
“Your support affords the recipients to lift themselves up, tap into their inner talents and excel as leaders in their chosen field,” he said.