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  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, is calling for the church to have a more dynamic presence in schools.
  • This, she said, is in order to help in shaping the lives of students, who are being prepared to take on the “tough challenges of life”.
  • The church’s contribution to education in Jamaica has been both large and legendary.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, is calling for the church to have a more dynamic presence in schools.

This, she said, is in order to help in shaping the lives of students, who are being prepared to take on the “tough challenges of life”.

Mrs. Simpson Miller, who was addressing the dedication ceremony for The Cedar Grove Academy in Portmore, St. Catherine on February 20, said the church’s contribution to education in Jamaica has been both large and legendary and it is arguable, that when it had a more vibrant role in schools, the society was better for it.

The Cedar Grove Academy is a partnership between the Ministry of Education and the New Testament Church of God in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. A co-educational institution, the school opened its doors to 86 Grade 7 students on September 2, 2013. One month later, the numbers increased to 96.

The school also offers courses to 35 sixth formers in the humanities and sciences and operates under a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) culture.

The Prime Minister lauded the fact that the school places strong emphasis on civic awareness, character education, values and attitudes, academic excellence, accountability, stakeholder involvement and partnership.

“Our students need to learn the discipline of value and focus. They need to learn how to concentrate beyond a few minutes of instruction. They need to sustain interest in matters that are not entertaining. If this happens they will be fit for the kind of demanding work the world beckons them,” she said.

She further noted that children must learn the value of postponing gratification as they pursue their academic goals, and to resist the temptation to be on “Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp,” at the expense of school work.

“Do schoolwork first. Finish school work first. Students have to know when to stop texting friends and start beating the books,” she said.

The Prime Minister commended the parents, who give support to their children, and urged them to keep their charges close and be aware of what they are doing at all times. She also expressed appreciation for the work and sacrifices of the nation’s teachers, and urged them not to grow weary.

Mrs. Simpson Miller again assured that the administration fully recognizes that Jamaica’s development is hinged on excellence in education . “That is why we allocated $75 billion in our current budget to education. We recognize that if we are to create enough decent jobs, people have to be educated,” she said.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Board of Governors, Rev. Dr. Wellesley Blair, extended gratitude for the partnership in the construction of the school, noting that a mission, which began in 2003, has finally been accomplished.

“As we all know, education is the driving force of the citizens of any country, for there is no stopping the populace of an educated country. There can also be no higher reward than can be given to our students, than what they are taught. So they are to be taught to strive for excellence and this is the heartbeat of this School of Excellence,” Rev. Blair said.

Also addressing the event were Minister of Education Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites; Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Member of Parliament for East Central St. Catherine, Hon. Arnaldo Brown; Acting Mayor of Portmore, Councillor Leon Thomas.

The school is staffed by 21 teaching and 10 non-teaching members. It has also been doing well academically, entering 10 grade 7 students in the Jamaican Mathematic Olympiad put on by the University of the West Indies, with three of them qualifying for the semi-finals round where they will sit their exams on February 22.