Students in the parish of Manchester are being channelled into positive pathways through the ‘Patriotism in Schools’ initiative, spearheaded by Custos of Manchester, the Hon. Garfield Green.
This is part of the ‘Manchester Beliefs, Values, and Attitudes’ (BVA) which seeks to foster developmental morals and standards and social responsibility among citizens in the parish.
Along with targeting young people, schools, the health and transportation sectors as well as the police, the church and business operators, the programme has key aims of establishing at least one uniformed group in each school across the parish.
“It was born out of the Custos’s passion to see us regain some of the lost morals, respect and values, and have our people and society restored to a position that we can be proud of,” states Chairman of the BVA Alicia Green, at the recent launch of the programme at the Porus Infant School in the parish.
She informs that the programme will promote the raising of the Jamaican flag in schools to demonstrate “our patriotism”, while the Girl’s Brigade movement will be launched across the parish to install good values and attitudes among the student population.
“We expect to lead by example, and we have to start with us. We can’t expect the youth to display respect if we don’t. We have to give respect to get respect. We have to change our attitudes” in order for the youth to be propelled towards great things, the Chairman outlines.
Member of Parliament for Manchester North Eastern, Hon. Audley Shaw, who is also Minister of Transport and Mining, says the programme is timely because many parts of the island are being beset by a “crisis of falling standards, and the best place to begin to address that crisis is right here with our little children”.
Urging the parents to keep “taking care of your children and inspiring them” to always look for an improved community, Mr. Shaw says they should also remind them every day that they can be the best.
“Because, in the pursuit of excellence, one person can make a difference,” and that the children should also be taught that while excellence is being pursued, “I can make a difference. It does not take money to be patriotic, it takes decency, honesty, respect and commitment,” the Member of Parliament says.
Regional Director at the Ministry of Education and Youth, Ottis Brown, while speaking at the launch saidhe has received feedback from school principals in Manchester, and they have commended the establishment of the programme. He is fully supportive of the initiative, because “building of character should start with children”.
Member of Parliament for Manchester North Western, Mikael Phillips, in describing the development as a “good move,” says it was needed, and “this is a good start, Custos, and I hope that we continue on this journey. As leaders in our communities and our country, we have a duty and responsibility to ensure that the children have a love for country, and the parish of Manchester”.
In his remarks the Custos shares that he firmly believes that the uniformed groups can help to instil discipline in students. To support the initiative, partnerships have been formed with the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force and the Scout Association of Jamaica, to have units in all the learning institutions for children and youth.
“We intend … through this partnership, to help our youth in schools … become patriotic, and develop positive attitudes, caring attitudes, and respectful attitudes,” Mr. Green tells his audience.
He argues that where a society possesses the attributes that he outlines, it also enables “reliable citizens” and the BVA wants to change negative mindsets as it is the “minds that we start with, because we have to set it right.
“Remove the negative mindset and establish mindsets that are positive, civic driven, and morally courageous. Come on board and make Jamaica a better place, by doing what is right,” Mr. Green says.
The Custos says the activities being pursued under the ‘Patriotism in Schools’ initiative, are strongly supported by the civic leadership, education fraternity and private-sector groups across the parish of Manchester.
With his team of volunteers, the Custos is leading a process to achieve key goals of core values and principles that they believe can make the communities thrive and encourage civic pride among the youth. This will ensure that the national symbols, especially the National Anthem, is respected and that they adhere to proper deportment.