- Minister Hanna says Jamaica should preserve its culture as this is one of the areas that can help to grow the economy.
- The Minister said it was extremely important for Jamaica to have at least one World Heritage Site.
- She added that having such a site will improve Jamaica’s ability to attract funding to develop its heritage sites.
Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says Jamaica should preserve its culture as this is one of the areas that can help to grow the economy.
“We have to take advantage of our culture …we have to make a deliberate effort to make it a part of the economic growth, because we have a competitive advantage,” Ms. Hanna said.
She was delivering the keynote address at a Heritage Clubs of Jamaica (HCJ) and Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) symposium, held under the theme ‘Our Heritage…Our Responsibility,” at the Institute of Jamaica Lecture Hall, in downtown Kingston on Thursday, May 8.
The Minister said it was extremely important for Jamaica to have at least one World Heritage Site. This is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as one of special cultural or physical significance.
“We must get a world heritage site. It will improve tourism, it will improve Jamaica’s ratings on the international indices for competitiveness. It will also improve our stakes when we go to international conferences, whether it is the UN or whether it is anywhere else,” Ms. Hanna said.
She added that having such a site will improve Jamaica’s ability to attract funding to develop its heritage sites.
Minister Hanna further informed that a dossier on the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP), which is of historic and natural significance, has recently been submitted to UNESCO for consideration as a World Heritage Site.
Officials will be arriving in the island next month to assess whether the site will qualify for that status.
The Minister urged the audience, consisting mostly of high school students, to use social and other media to generate a buzz about the site.
“It will mean that young people like yourselves who have access to social media … who have access to schools, who have access to heritage clubs, you need to start talking about it. You need to start educating people about it. You need to start lobbying everybody across the country about how important it is,” she urged.
The Minister also implored the group to be more vocal about their cultural heritage. “Take it seriously and talk up. Everybody is talking about roads, water, talk about your culture. There is funding for culture internationally but we need more voices,” the Minister said.
The primary aim of the symposium was to allow the schools to showcase Jamaica’s heritage, through creative heritage projects, presentations and displays.
Chairman of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, Ainsley Henriques, who is also a founding member of Heritage Clubs of Jamaica, noted that the organization, which was formed in 1996, was dormant for a while but has now been resuscitated. He emphasised that it is important to build on the future by knowing about the heritage.
The main objective of Heritage Clubs of Jamaica is to undertake a new range of community- based activities focused on the importance of understanding and interpreting Jamaica’s rich heritage, and its impact on nation building.
Meanwhile, Assistant General Manager, Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), Leon Mitchell advocated for more to be done to preserve Jamaica’s heritage.
Mr. Mitchell noted that there is a need to redefine the Jamaican identity.
“There was once a sense of dignity and pride that came along with being a Jamaican, which defined us as someone aspiring to great heights and was willing to work hard to achieve economic and social progress. Very often today, the history of Jamaica is not being taught to our children and so they are growing up with little or no appreciation of the struggles which have allowed us to reach where we are today as a nation,” he said.
“We want to be a country which recognises its heritage. To turn the tide we need to advocate for more structured placement of Jamaican history and civic based teaching in our primary schools curriculum which emphasizes respect for our national symbols, landmarks and our history,” Assistant General Manager said.
The schools, which participated in the symposium, were: Ferncourt, Morant Bay, St. Catherine, Holland, Ardenne and Westwood High; The Queen’s School, St. Elizabeth Technical High, Hampton School, Calabar Primary and Junior High, and Marcus Garvey Technical High School. The CHASE Fund and JNBS provided sponsorship.