• Feature
    Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, presents retired educator, Mohan Kumar with the 2019 Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education at the awards ceremony held on June 26 at Jamaica House.
    Photo: Donald De La Haye

    Story Highlights

    • Mohan Kumar, has spent over three decades building the community of Morant Bay, St. Thomas, through education and his genuine interest in the well-being of community members.
    • He was awarded the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education at the awards ceremony held on June 26 at Jamaica House.
    • Mr. Kumar came to Jamaica from India in 1982 as a teacher of English Language and English Literature at the Westwood High School, in Trelawny.

    Mohan Kumar, has spent over three decades building the community of Morant Bay, St. Thomas, through education and his genuine interest in the well-being of community members.

    He was awarded the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education at the awards ceremony held on June 26 at Jamaica House.

    Mr. Kumar came to Jamaica from India in 1982 as a teacher of English Language and English Literature at the Westwood High School, in Trelawny.

    He, however, found his home at the Morant Bay High School in St. Thomas, where he stayed from 1987 until his retirement from the teaching profession in 2015.

    “I love this nation and I love the children and I didn’t want to go to North America. I came to Jamaica and I didn’t want to leave. I got jobs in many places but I preferred to come to St. Thomas. I wanted to put my roots down and work for some children in St. Thomas and the neighbouring parishes,” Mr. Kumar tells JIS News.

    With a clear focus on the development of the students, Mr. Kumar steadily moved from being the grade supervisor for the Fifth and Sixth Forms of Morant Bay High, to Head of the English Department, Vice Principal and then Principal of the school.

    During his time at the institution, he implemented a school improvement plan which was carried out in three-year cycles.

    The plan focused on the development of all aspects of the school from infrastructure and budget, to examination performance and teacher and student evaluations.

    “I continued the legacy of my previous principal of building classrooms, refurbishing the labs and departments [and] internet system for the entire school so that the children could get some [benefit] out of that,” the retired Principal explains.

    As a result, Morant Bay High now has improved facilities for its library and the home economics, mathematics, science and business departments. In addition, an evening school programme was started.

    Mr. Kumar also highlighted that the school was ranked 14th, at the time of his retirement, by digital media company, Educate Jamaica, for its Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) performance in 2014.

    Through the school’s Guidance Counselling Department, Mr. Kumar launched a community service programme for fifth and sixth form students.

    “There was no community service at Morant Bay High until that time and we thought it would help the children to meet the school requirements to go abroad. They used to go to the infirmary, the hospital and basic schools and help with teaching and so on and they would go at scheduled times,” he explains.

    Mr. Kumar also started a breakfast programme for the less fortunate students and extended it to include the school’s athletes who sometimes had to train and compete in early morning sporting events.

    This, he says, aided in their domination of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association’s Eastern Championships.

    The committed educator also oversaw the purchase of a school bus which was used to transport students from Yallahs, Seaforth, and Port Morant to school on time for a minimal charge.

    The retired educator’s commitment to education saw him offering his skills beyond Morant Bay High.

    He spent 10 years teaching a foundation English course at the University of the West Indies Open Campus in Morant Bay. He also spent an equal amount of time teaching English at the Excelsior Community College Evening Institute and also headed the institute at its Lyssons location.

    “Working adults had the opportunity to come to the evening schools at Morant Bay High School and Excelsior and other places to improve on their education and move from one state to another. The parents and the community gave enormous support and without their support the schools would not have reached where they are now,” Mr. Kumar states.

    Mr. Kumar who says that that teaching is his passion, is from a family of educators and is also married to the Vice Principal of Morant Bay High, Alice Kumar.

    He says his love for teaching coupled, with his love for Jamaica, influenced around 25 colleagues from India to come to Jamaica to teach.

    “They have been at University of Technology, Jamaica, Glenmuir, and Cornwall… [teaching] mostly in the subjects like Math and the sciences and also in English,” he notes.

    Mr. Kumar now serves on the panel of the Jamaica Teaching Council for the evaluation of Master Teachers in the areas of English Language and Literature.

    “Once you are a teacher, you must have a passion. Try to do what you can for your school. I encourage teachers to try to give their children whatever they can to take the country forward,” states.