Parents/Guardians, Teachers, Students, Friends of Education, Jamaicans all, a pleasant good evening.

It is important that as we begin the 2012-2013 academic year, the conversation about education continues.

It is the most important issue for the nation.

Educational outcomes that will determine our future. We must understand what each of us must do, as we unite around the common good of educating and training a nation on a mission.

Have you noticed that in this our 50th year of Independence there is obvious heightened interest in the provision of quality education. This is a good sign of maturity.

I want to encourage our parents/guardians even as they face the economic realities of the day, to endeavour to give priority to the expenses of education for their children.

Let me remind you that you should not burden yourselves with the purchasing of (unnecessary) books not approved by the Ministry of Education and other frills not needed for studying. Spend your money wisely. A good breakfast every day is better than a heavy bag of books.

Textbooks, Workbooks and most Learning Materials chosen by expert teachers are provided for all students at Primary level schools across Jamaica.

At the Secondary level schools, the Ministry has provided all the basic texts under a rental scheme. Government has spent $900 Million of your money to help you save on excessive book lists.

If you are not certain about the textbooks to purchase, check the list published by The Ministry of Education or seek guidance from the various Regional Offices, or your school.

Encourage your children to read aloud to you and to do homework every day. Check their books and contact their teachers at least once a month to find out how they are doing.

Auxiliary Fees at the Secondary level schools are approved by the Ministry of Education. The school needs these additional funds to supplement the Government’s payment of tuition fees.

There are laboratories and Workshops to be maintained, Libraries to be restocked, maintenance of buildings, Physical Education/Sports programmes to be financed and in many schools, Insurance provisions to be made.

There are no fees for primary schools but parents should try to contribute to those extras approved by the Parent-Teachers’ Association. Parents! Be responsible and work out a payment plan with the school. There is no shame.

Parents who find themselves in difficulty are asked to dialogue with the schools’ administration. Let me state categorically that no student must be denied access to any school, because of genuine inability to pay.

You the parents and guardians provide for the socio-economic needs of your children. I appeal to you, to monitor them, whether in terms of their school work and their attendance and behavior. Parents, you are very important in the educational process of your child.

Students, you too have an obligation to yourselves.

Try to get to school on time every day and attend all your classes.

Rudeness and bad behaviour are not cool! Obey your parents and teachers. Facebook and dancehall can’t help you like knowledge, skills and discipline. Keep your focus at school and don’t waste time. Your teachers are there to help your learning, and they must be treated with respect.

I want to recognize our hard working teachers who continue to give of their best. Take time to know your children and respond to their needs before you start the curriculum.

Fellow Jamaicans, every sector must play its part for quality education: the private sector, churches, NGO’s and Individuals. This school year the emphasis will be on:

•          Early Childhood Education – Literacy and Numeracy

•          The repairing of 10 Government infant schools.

•          The construction of 50 new infant schools (1 starting each month) proposed.

•          Improvement of Sanitary convenience in 31 Primary schools.

•          The placement of 200 trained but presently unemployed teachers to gain added experience in addition to the assignment of 20 trained teachers in existing basic schools.

•          The Enactment of the Parenting policy.

•          The review and, where needed, the re-organization of the Career Advancement Program (CAP), the Alternative Secondary Transitional Education Programme (A-STEP) and High School Equivalency Program.

•          The implementation of the Teachings of Garveyism within an improved Civics Curriculum.

•          Introducing strong remedial measures to correct the continuous poor performance of students in the CSEC exams in Mathematics and English in particular.

Let us all play our part, as I commend to you the words of the Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey “Progress is the attraction that moves humanity."

I pray for God’s guidance as we re-commit our energies into making the 2012-2013 school year a rewarding experience.

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