Minister with responsibility for Information in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, says Jamaica has excelled over the past 50 years since attaining political independence, and the people can be proud of the enormous achievements.
"We have had a stable democracy with 12 elections since 1962, and relatively peaceful transfers of power, which has gotten better with time. There is almost universal access to schooling – a fine heritage of 50 years of Independence. The standard of living for most of our people has improved significantly as they have access to electricity, water and telephone, and a range of services," she said.
The Minister was delivering the keynote address at Ballards Valley Primary School Valedictory Service on July 5, in St. Elizabeth.
Senator Falconer said there have been challenges during the period, but the people have always shown their strength and resilience.
The Minister pointed out that the on-going Jamaica 50 celebrations will showcase the best of Jamaica, and that the country’s culture has attracted thousands of persons from across the world.
"These celebrations will allow us, as a people, to unite around the things that bind and make us Jamaicans such a special people. Fifty years is by no means a long time in the life of a nation, but let no one take away from us, the fact that despite the challenges, Jamaica has achieved much and does ‘throw a lot of punch’ for such a small country," Senator Falconer said.
"We also have some of the finest highways, seaports and airports in the region, and many ordinary Jamaicans have better personal and public transportation. Our music and culture and our sportsmen and women continue to expand the Jamaican brand across the far reaches of the world," she added.
The Minister praised the efforts made by parents and teachers to prepare the (primary) graduates for secondary education. "Just remember that it is not the end of the journey, there is much work left to be done to ensure that your children finish high school and go on to even higher studies. To the teachers, thank you for the effort and the nurturing that you provided for these beautiful children. You are a big part of the reason they are graduating today," she told the audience.
Senator Falconer encouraged the students to take inspiration from persons in the parish who have made strides in their chosen fields, and to value the foundation that they have attained in education and to regard “every single day of your life as extraordinary, as something that is special."
Principal of the school, Fitzroy Black, in his report thanked the teachers at the school, who continue to mold future leaders and are dedicated to their job.
He also had special commendation for the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), for providing a new block consisting of six classrooms.
By Garfield Angus, JIS Reporter