“We are going to have to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Your mind is your only ruler. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind”.

As we pause to celebrate Emancipation Day, to reflect on its significance to our present reality, I greet you with the words of the forefather of Pan-Africanism – our very own, the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

Only a few days ago, I launched the National Education Transformation Commission, out of an acute recognition that we must transform our systems, particularly our education system, to give ourselves the best chance of developing a growing economy and thriving society in a new global order, driven by knowledge and technology.  The Pandemic has only served to hasten this new global order and heightens the need for us to undergo this critical transformation.

You may be asking yourself – what does this have to do with Emancipation? Here again, I invoke the words of Marcus Garvey, immortalized in song by Bob Marley – “none but ourselves can free our minds”. Full freedom will never be truly achieved unless we free our minds. And that my fellow Jamaicans, is the link between Emancipation and Education.

The greatest enslaver is ignorance.  Freedom starts with the search for knowledge and its wise use. Education is the process by which we spread knowledge and eliminate ignorance.  This is how we develop our minds.  The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.

If we are to be truly emancipated, we must develop our individual and collective minds.  A key mandate of the Commission is to make recommendations for transformation of the education sector to create truly liberated, empowered Jamaicans, who model pro-social and pro-growth behaviours, who are in charge of their emotions and at peace with themselves, others and their environment.

It cannot be lost on us, in the current circumstances that our ancestors suffered the greatest indignities ever meted out to any set of human beings.  It cannot be overstated that our ancestors though enslaved, never lost their desire to be free, the desire to be agents in their own cause.

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