Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding took time out of his busy schedule Friday (June 5) to visit the Freetown Primary school, Clarendon, in response to a letter written to him on an exercise book page, by a 5-year-old student requesting books for the school’s library.
Mr. Golding said he was impressed by what was written by the student, Jardin Morrison, who has been assessed by the Mico University Child Assessment Unit as being seven years ahead of his grade in oral reading and spelling.
He congratulated the boy’s teachers and parents adding, “we must pay attention to the parents who have taken the time to sit with him, encourage him to learn more, to read more and to reach for more knowledge. This is how he will become one of the powerful symbols of achievement in this country.”
The PM gave an undertaking to equip the library at the Freetown Primary School, and to see how much assistance can be provided to support the building of a proper library.
The school now accommodates 500 students, although was originally built for 200.
Prime Minister the Hon. Golding (seated) writing his complimentary remarks about the Freetown Primary School in the school’s visitors book. Mr. Golding was a special guest at the school this afternoon when he took the time out to deliver books for the library at the request of five-year-old Jardin Morrison (at R beside PM) who had written to him asking for books for his school’s library.
Addressing the large gathering of students, parents and community leaders, the PM expressed his concern about what he described as, “an excessive culture of spending on graduation by schools in Jamaica.”
He said the practice is bringing unnecessary pressures on parents, right across the board, and should be stopped.
Mr. Golding said he will be meeting with the Minister of Education to develop a policy on the matter.
“This comment is not directed at Freetown Primary School …it is directed at every school across Jamaica, every school principal and every board of management at every school,” he said. He also pointed out that the practice was not only in high schools, but even at basic school level.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE OUR BOYS READING…Prime Minister the Hon. Golding tells this group of students from Freetown Primary in Clarendon. The Prime Minister was a special guest at the school this afternoon when he went there to personally deliver books he donated to the school’s library at the request of 5 year old Jardin Morrison who wrote to him.
On Thursday, the Prime Minister said, four different parents in his constituency had approached him seeking financial assistance for graduation exercises. He said he has already issued a directive to schools in West Kingston to cut it out immediately.
The PM said he gave an undertaking to his constituents to provide assistance for books, but would not spend any money on fancy gowns and hats.
Mr. Golding detailed a list of requirements for graduation, including gowns, hats, and photograph packages, which added up to a cost of over $8,000 for each parent for graduation and, in many cases, the student had not passed a single subject.
Emphasising that he had nothing against graduation exercises, Mr. Golding recalled that, in his time, students graduated in their khaki uniforms and parents did not have to dip into their pocket to find expensive gowns and hats.