Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, has called on public and private sector leaders to pay greater attention to channeling the country’s youth into technological innovation and other fields of economic development.
He said that there is enough evidence of the abundant talent among the country’s young people which, if effectively harnessed, “can catapult them and with them, Jamaica, into being significant players in the information technology revolution”.
“If youth are marginalised, if their energies and creativity are not harnessed for productive participation in socio-economic growth, the risk of their participation in deviant behaviour is extremely high,” the Governor-General argued.
“When we remember that youth were the inventors of Google and Facebook for example, the question must not be ‘Why can’t our Jamaican youth be similarly inventive?’ but rather “How can we create the environment, which will give wings to their creative genius?” he stated.
The Governor-General was delivering the keynote address at Junior Achievement Jamaica’s Champions for Youth Awards Banquet held yesterday (May 30), at the Terra Nova Hotel in St. Andrew.
The initiative is dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programmes.
Some 30 teachers, companies and media houses were recognised for their mentoring and sponsorship support for the approximately 25,000 students in the programme.
The Governor-General commended members of the private sector, who support the programme, noting that “the entrepreneurial examples, which you set by your own action are of more lasting value than theories learned from the best textbooks.”
Chairman, Jamaica Junior Achievement and President and Chief Executive Officer, Scotia Bank Jamaica, Bruce Bowen, said the programme has achieved great success in its four years of operation, reaching students in 1,000 classroom sessions, after-school programmes and conferences.
He informed that this year, the programme will impact almost 10,000 students across 14 parishes, who are being taught by volunteers.
Junior Achievement Alumnus and St. Andrew Technical High School, Jerome Palmer, who was the Master of Ceremonies, said that through the programme, he has been equipped with the skills and knowledge to successfully operate a business.
“For the past seven months, I have negotiated with vendors, led a team and developed and sold a product, earned revenue and returned profit to shareholders. I have seen my future and I have to say thank you to our champions for youth,” Mr. Palmer testified.
Teacher at William Knibb High in Trelawny, Sonia Watson-Lebert, was elated with her award. She has been involved with the programme since its inception in 2009.
“The best part of the programme for me is Career for Business Success, so we get business people from the community, professionals, business leaders, to come in and spend a day with the students in classes. The teachers are asked to sit with the students while these people conduct classes in business, so it exposes the students to what is happening in the wider business world,” Mrs. Watson-Lebert said.
Other teachers awarded were: Andrea Beaumont-Kelly, St. Elizabeth Technical High; Beverly Burte, Herbert Morrison High, St. James; Taneika Crooks, Jamaica College, St. Andrew; Marsha Gordon, Porus Primary, Manchester; Dorretta Guthries,
Mt. Airy All Age, Hanover; Dian Harris, Charlemont High, St. Catherine; Candace Lewis, Beecham Hill Primary, St. Mary; Lesa Michelin, Ascot High, St. Catherine; Sandra Panton, Port Antonio High, Portland; and Kearon Stenn-Brown, St. George’s College, Kingston.
Major sponsors awarded included, Citi Bank; Ernst &Young; Financial Services Commission; JN Fund Managers; Sandals Foundation; Scotiabank; United Nations Children Fund; Microsoft; CIBC; General Electric; GraceKennedy; Insurance Company of the West Indies; RBC Royal Bank.
CONTACT: ANDREA BRAHAM