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Prime Minister Bruce Golding says Jamaica can no longer afford to deny itself of the reservoir of knowledge and tremendous experience that exist in professionals such as teachers, in order to stick to the time honoured practice of retiring people simply because they have reached the age of 60.
Mr. Golding noted that Jamaica has an aging population with people living longer and healthier lives due to the advances in medical science and technology. ‘It’s a great loss. We can’t afford to stick with this time honoured rule that says when you reach 60, you are shown the door’, Mr. Golding told a group of 11 teachers who were retiring from the Old Habour High school at a special function in their honour, held at Ascot Hall in Old Harbour, earlier this week.
He said persons at age 60 now are still physically and mentally alert but are being told now that it’s time for them to go and to find another work. Mr. Golding says he will address this subject when he makes his contribution to the 2008/2009 budget debate in the House come April 22.
Mr. Golding paid tribute to the teachers at the Old Habour school which he said had been like an oasis in the desert producing a higher level of graduates than many of the traditional high schools. ‘Educating our children is a partnership’, Mr Golding told the teachers. He is of the view that teachers are being called upon today to do too much. He called on the teachers at Old Harbour High not to let their guard down for fear of invasion of a set of values that threaten to destroy the fabric of the society and which would make the school become another failed institution graduating some of the estimated 38,000 unattached students annually who can contribute so little to society because they leave school being unable to read or write or without even one subject.
However, Mr Golding noted that although these students may be unemployable they are not irredeemable or un-trainable and so the challenge for schools is how to refocus their minds and help them to become productive human beings. ‘The challenge is how to cauterize this gushing flow of humanity of ill-prepared and unready young people. How do we get the flashes of excellence that’s demonstrated in schools such as Old Harbour High- to become the norm?’ he questioned.
Mr. Golding disclosed that he has instructed the Ministry of Education to undertake a study of the performance of non-traditional schools such as Old Harbour High, Maggoty and Guys Hill, to see what makes them successful so that they can be held up as examples to other institutions.
Presentations of gifts, plaques and citations were made to eleven teachers for their combined 319 years of service to the Old Harbor High school which will be celebrating its 40th anniversary soon.