KINGSTON — Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Donna-Marie Rowe, says the agency remains cognizant of the need to engage children in nationally relevant issues of history and governance, in an effort to engender a spirit of pride in the younger generation.
"At the JIS we are always seeking new ways in which to fulfill our role as guardians of Jamaica's heritage and, in so doing, engender nationalism in our people,” Mrs. Rowe remarked.
She was speaking at the inaugural Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Heritage Essay Competition Awards Ceremony, at King’s House on Tuesday (November 8).
"We believe in teaching our children the story of how we came to be, where we are and who we are: How we came from a history of enslavement, to becoming among the brightest, most creative and talented in the world,” she stated.
Ten primary school students were recognised for outstanding performance in the JIS inaugural Heritage Essay Competition, but it was St. Hugh’s Preparatory student, Kathryn Gooden, who copped the top prize. The nine-year-old walked away with several prizes, including a JIS first place trophy, a weekend for four at Franklyn D. Resort, Sangster’s Book Store voucher, an MP4 Player and $10,000 cash.
Rounding off the top three were: 10 year-old St. Hugh’s Preparatory student, Matthew Irons, who finished second; and 11-year-old, Tajrakae Bryson, who copped the third prize. Matthew, the only male in the top ten, was awarded $6,000 cash, a digital camera, a flash drive, Sangster’s Book Store voucher and a JIS trophy. Tajrakae, a student of Corinaldi Avenue Primary School in St. James also received a JIS trophy, a flash drive, a printer, book voucher and $4,000 cash.
Mrs. Rowe applauded the awardees, informing them that they could also adapt the qualities and character of a hero.
"Children, we want you to know that you too can be heroes wherever you are; at school, in your communities, at church or even at play. We want you to believe in your God-given potential to be brave, strong, strong-thinkers and shapers of Jamaica’s bright future,” she said.
She noted that the objective of the competition was to move a step further, from highlighting the qualities of Jamaica’s national heroes to helping the children make the connection between the past and the present, and to apply the lessons to their lives.
"Our essay competition is a step further in a thrust we started four years ago, through JIS programming. We not only familiarise our children with our national heritage, we showcase their achievements and encourage them to participate in national life,” Mrs. Rowe stated.
In his keynote address, Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, congratulated the awardees and lauded the JIS for being a trailblazer in transmitting the achievements of Jamaicans to young and old, and for keeping the country’s heritage and culture alive and relevant.
He also noted that the essay competition was a commendable endeavour, which gave many young Jamaicans a chance to research and become more aware of the achievements of their ancestors. He said he hoped the essay competition has left the students inspired to learn more "about how we came to be such a unique and distinguished people in the Caribbean and the world, and you will endeavour to learn more about our customs, our origins, our mores," the Governor-General said.
"Then I hope you will fall in love all over with Jamaica, and you will be proud to say, wherever you go, that I am a born Jamaican," he added.
The JIS received more than 150 entries for the essay competition, which was open to students at the primary school level between the ages nine and 12. Entrants were asked to write a 300 to 350 word essay on the topic “Who is your favourite National Hero or Heroine? Explain”. The competition is expected to become an annual event.
There were also a number of sectional prizes, including the Best Entry in the nine-year-old category, which went to Kathryn Gooden. Ten-year-old Kori-Ann Hermitt of St. Richard’s Primary School received the award for the Best Entry in her age group, while Tajrakae Bryson got best entry in the 11-year-old section and 12-year-old Sudandiee Stewart, of Marie Cole Primary in St. Elizabeth, received the prize for her age group.
The prize for Best Use of Language went to Ashli Francis of St. John’s Preparatory in St. Ann. Best Researched Entry was awarded to Tajrakae Bryson and Most Creative Entry went to Jenieve Malcolm.
Three students also received the Judges’ Special Award, these were: Elizabeth Benjamin, St. Andrew Preparatory, Jhonalee Gardner, Inverness Primary and Infant school in St. Ann and Tomoya Palmer, Mile Gully Primary school.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter