KINGSTON — Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, has vowed to return the subject of civics to the curricula of Jamaican schools.
Speaking at a ceremony for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Jamaica,at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston on Wednesday (April 13), Mr. Holness said teaching the subject was critical in building solid characters and moulding exemplary citizens.
He said while there was a drive to improve the academic performance of students, there was also a significant need to improve the behaviour of many students. The subject of civics is regarded as the study of the rights and duties of citizenship, or the study of government with attention to the role of citizens.
“We see it (civics) as critical to the development of the nation…” “I’m giving notice to the nation that we will be returning civics to the curriculum of our schools,” he said.
Mr. Holness further argued that, “if we do not spend our resources on developing and changing the behaviour of our students, then we have automatically made the decision to spend it on the police force and the prisons.”
He said the government has to make the wise choice to ensure that youngsters, who are now in its charge, are infused with an understanding of nationhood, so that when they become leaders they have a genuine and vested interest in protecting the society.
Mr. Holness also said the Ministry would be working to develop and incorporate an awards system, similar to that of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, on a national scale to recognise excellence in the characters of young people.
More than 120 high school students were presented with bronze and silver awards, for successfully completing various pursuits under the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Jamaica, at the ceremony.
The awards programme, a character-building initiative, allows young people, aged 14 to 25 years, to participate in activities aimed at fostering personal and social development. Persons take part in the programme to gain an award, with each one requiring a greater degree of commitment.
Of the 128 youngsters honoured, 32 were given the silver award and 96 received bronze awards, which are two of three categories of awards. The gold award, the highest honour, is presented to persons 16 years and older, who have completed eight months to two years of activities, and exhibit responsible adult behaviour and citizenship.
For entry into the silver award category, youngsters should be 15 years or older and must be engaged in tasks for 12 to 18 months, while persons aged 14 years and older may gain the bronze award, which can be achieved between six months and a year.
To win an award, participants must complete activities in four sections for a specified minimum period of time. These include service, an adventurous journey, skills and physical recreation. There is an additional requirement of a residential project at the gold level.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter