JIS News

Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange, has emphasised that students would be the ones to take the message of positive change for the future, throughout the corners of Jamaica.
“You are the torch bearers. You are student activists and student activism is no new concept to the youth of Jamaica. I was young once and I was an activist and there is no greater feeling than being passionate about one’s rights, one’s responsibilities, for the good of the society,” Miss Grange said in her message to students, in celebration of International Students Day, today (November 17).
“I have no reservations in asserting that you, as students, the young people of this country, are the ones who will effect positive change in Jamaica. Many past young advocates from our school system have held and are still holding the highest positions of influence in their communities, places of employment, in the churches, and even in our political institutions,” she added.
Miss Grange explained that in 1939, students felt the need to advocate for the rights of their peers in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Nazi troopers, she said, “stormed the University of Prague in an effort to close all institutions of higher learning. More than 1,200 students were jailed or sent to concentration camps; and nine students and professors were executed without trial. This gave birth in 1941, in Europe, to the first International Students Day.”
“Then in 1973, students in Athens, Greece, showed their solidarity in promoting concepts of democracy and anti-government sentiments. This was done through a radio broadcasting network, which they developed, garnering much support from their peers. This movement became known as the Athens Polytechnic Uprising. It eventually came to a climax, as violent military action was taken against the students on today’s date, November 17, which you are now celebrating,” the Minister explained further.
Miss Grange noted that in Jamaica, young people have also fought the fight for education and equal opportunity for all. She pointed out that these have varied from: peaceful sit-ins; public marches to the Prime Ministers’ residences and Parliament building; closure of the university campuses; and letters and public statements to media houses.
Just a week ago, approximately 600 young people participated in a youth run through the parishes of Westmoreland, St. Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon, to show their solidarity against the perpetration of crime and violence in the society.
“This youth run against crime and violence, prove that our students are still passionate and very alive in quelling the evils of society to dawn a new day of peace in Jamaica. And you will succeed, because good prevails over evil,” Miss Grange said.
The Minister also cited some of the issues that Jamaican students have successfully tackled, such as increases in university tuition fees; adequate security presence on school campuses; violence in schools; and strong political statements about the management of resources within the Government Education Portfolio.
“As we speak, there is much activity on the ground being organised, in light of the recent upsurge in crime and violence against our youths. Many statements have been made by students through your National Secondary Students’ Council and by university students. Commitments have been given by students to play their part in sensitising their compatriots about ways in which the war against crime and violence can be effectively countered,” Miss Grange said.
“This Youth Month (November), is particularly important, because we have been inspired by the achievements of many of our youngsters who made us proud through international achievements. For example, our Beijing Olympians showed us, once again, that Jamaicans and our youth, in particular, can achieve greatness,” Miss Grange said.
The Minister urged students to bring the message of, ‘I Can, We Can, Youth Can Achieve Greatness’, to the rest of their peers.

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