JIS News

The Haile Selassie High School paid tribute to Jamaican men at the institution’s ‘Jamaica Day’ celebrations, which were held under the theme ‘Celebrating Jamaican men, stronger souls in finer frames’ on February 17.
The event was staged at the school’s Payne Avenue grounds off Spanish Town Road, in collaboration with the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA), the Safe Schools secretariat, and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture’s Culture in Education Programme (CIEP).
Director of the CIEP and Coordinator of the event, Amina Blackwood Meeks, told JIS News that the occasion was born out of a need to, “re-centre ourselves in culture, heritage, patrimony and identity”.
“We know the problems. We see our young people not respecting the elders, we see the elders forgetting that they deserve to receive and to give respect.our children are what they are because we are not modeling behaviours which can be emulated in a consistent way,” she noted.
Speaking on the emphasis that is placed on material gains, she pointed out that, “some (persons) including students no longer place value or worth on themselves but rather on possessions”. As a result of this, she said, the day was necessary to try and bring about a change in the students’ way of thinking.
Commenting on the theme ‘Celebrating Jamaican men, stronger souls in finer frames’, Mrs. Meeks informed that it was spawned from a line from the poem ‘Baptism’ by Claude McKay.
“Last year we celebrated Jamaican women, history makers, hammers and rocks, and the contribution that these women have made to our country,” Mrs. Meeks informed.
Women who were placed under scrutiny included those from our history books, other notables in our society along with “women who we don’t normally look at,” she told JIS News.
Next term, the focus will be placed on ‘Celebrating Jamaica talk: From the Abeng to the cell phone’. The focus will go beyond technological advances in the field of communication, and will look at “how we talk, the names that we call each other and their appropriateness”, she said.
Asked about the choice of schools, Mrs. Meeks informed that schools either volunteered or were selected by the programme. Either way, “the selection and the volunteerism make a happy coincidence”, she emphasized.
Haile Selassie, which was founded 40 years ago, is also a participant in the Ministry of National Security’s Safe Schools Programme, which seeks to encourage ways of creating safer schools for the nation’s young.
Professor Barry Chevannes, President of the VPA, delivered the main address and the Nyahbingi Drummers provided entertainment. Following the opening ceremony the students participated in a number of Internet chat rooms where there were lively discussions on such topics as ‘Men’s role in emancipation and independence’; ‘Traditional socialization in a changing world’ and ‘The role and portrayal of Jamaican men in the media.’ ‘Jamaica Day’ activities were also simultaneously celebrated at the Camperdown High school.

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