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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Eight schools in Portmore signed a MoU to support the National Respect Agenda Campaign (NRAC) and the Cluster Development Project (CDP).
  • These partnerships include raising academic standards; transforming students’ behaviour; and promoting national re-socialization in civil values.
  • Vice Principal of Vauxhall High School in East Kingston, Noel Brackenridge thinks that the Respect Agenda is a good one.

The country moved a step closer to re-integrating a comprehensive programme of values within schools, when on February 14 eight schools in Portmore signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Portmore HEART Academy.

The signing took place during the launch of the National Respect Agenda Campaign (NRAC) and the Cluster Development Project (CDP).

The MoU signifies the schools’ support for both programmes, which are part of a wider campaign aimed at promoting values in young people.

The NRAC is one component of the Jamaica Re-socialization Programme (JRP), which is being implemented by the Jamaica Re-socialization Alliance (JRA) under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.

The JRA comprises persons who volunteer as student mentors throughout the island, while the CDP involves schools in the various educational regions of the Ministry of Education, which have formed clusters to collaborate on matters of mutual interest.

These partnerships include raising academic standards; transforming students’ behaviour; and promoting national re-socialization in civil values and attitudes through the implementation of the NRAC.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites who delivered  the keynote address at the launch, noted that after two years at the Ministry of Education, he has observed that one of the greatest challenges in the education system is the decline of social capital –  which the NRAC and the JRA aim to address.

“It is the policy of the Ministry to create around schools, a community of care which uplifts the values of respect, honesty, responsible relationships, personal relationships and attitudes of service where we extol discipline and understand that happiness comes from extending self in the service of our own cause and that of others,” the Minister said.

Principals representing Ascot High, Bridgeport High, Cedar Grove Academy, Cumberland High, Greater Portmore High, St. John’s College, Portmore Community College and Waterford High signed the MoU on behalf of members of the Portmore Cluster of Schools in Region Six.

“When our principals come together outside of the central ministry to form partnerships, this signifies a step in the right direction and hence it deserves our full support, especially at a time when we seek to develop creative strategies to prepare the next generation of this country,” Chief Education Officer, Grace McLean said, at the launch.

Programme Coordinator for the NRAC and the CDF, Reginald Budhan said that the main purpose of the Respect Agenda is to give real and practical meaning to the Vision 2030 national development plan to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.  “This is therefore a real high level strategic intervention,” he pointed out.

Mr. Budhan noted that the campaign will benefit from several excellent programmes now being implemented, including its predecessor, the Values and Attitudes programme started by former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson.

Principal of Bridgeport High School, Aston Messam told JIS News that he welcomes any intervention that seeks to address problems in schools, and propose solutions and best practices.

“In relation to the Respect Agenda, especially at this time we really need something like this because of the children. We are trying our best but there is a real challenge with community, home and other problems that we really have a difficult task dealing with, so we must join hands together and work towards assisting our children,” he said.

Meanwhile, Head Boy, Brian Scott says he is happy with the initiative which is expected to bring greater synergies between the schools in the St. Catherine municipality. He said that as head boy he will endeavour to do his best to encourage his peers to be part of the campaign.

Vice Principal of Vauxhall High School in East Kingston, Noel Brackenridge who attended the launch to support his colleagues in Portmore, thinks that the Respect Agenda is a good one.

“We have lost some of those little values that we used to cherish and a lot of children come to school without the basic home training, so I think if we can do it at the school level and get it out there in the community, it will help us as a society”, he says.

An important element of the NRAC is the National Mentorship Programme (NaMP), where past students are invited to act as mentors at the classroom level at their former high schools.

The NaMP will also use high achievers in government such as political leaders, senior public servants, leaders of industries and the wider business community, members of academia and other outstanding members of the society as high profile senior mentors.

The programme is being piloted in Region six and is eventually to be rolled out to other regions.