JIS News

The United Kingdom (UK) Jamaican Diaspora is being urged to lobby for an educational fund to support tertiary education in the Caribbean, as part of a serious reparation or development assistance package.
Chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation, Professor Rex Nettleford, said in this Bicentennial year (of the Abolition of the Slave Trade), the issue of reparation cannot be about giving money to the descendant of African slaves. “I refer to reparation and the implications for all of us – for both you here and us back in the region. Reparation cannot, to my mind, mean the doling out of 500 Pounds Sterling to each descendant of the African slave. To some of us, it has come to mean a serious resource investment in the educational development of the descendants of slaves, so that we ourselves can be the architects of our fortune. None but us can bring about the redemption from the centuries of dehumanization and denigration suffered by millions,” he said. Professor Nettleford, who is also Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies, was the keynote speaker at Saturday’s (June 16) Jamaica Diaspora UK conference in West Bromwich in the Midlands. “The Jamaican Diaspora, along with kindred spirits from the rest of the region, could serve as an excellent lobby group to get homeland Britain to think in these terms, rather than appearing to be seeking to avoid the decency of apologizing for wrongs done in the past. The offspring born in the Jamaican Diaspora here must be considered beneficiaries of any such development assistance,” he argued.
“The proffered Educational Fund which Britain may not be averse to, could be the basis for funding the 300 million or more Pounds Sterling needed for the sustainability of the highly respected University of the West Indies and could well be considered as part of a serious reparation or development assistance package,” he added. Professor Nettleford said the education and socialisation of children in Britain was critical to all Jamaicans. “It is what goes on in the brain, in the kingdom of the mind, cultivated and sensitized to work in tandem with the imagination and well beyond the reach of the oppressor, that will make the tenants of the Diaspora whole. So the education and socialization of our offspring here in Britain is critical for all of us – those at home and those abroad. The first generation of Jamaican migrants lost out somewhat by not penetrating the educational system of the host country. The few who did, made great strides and that is evident. And those of us who came especially for an education to return home have benefited tremendously. But an earlier generation of migrants did not sufficiently grasp the importance of that lifelong learning from primary school through secondary to university level education,” he pointed out.
He reminded the audience that Jamaicans and West Indians contributed immensely to the economic development of Britain.
“That West Indian generation followed through by contributing immensely to the reconstruction/rehabilitation of post-war Britain. The British Ministries of Health and of Transport sent out appeals to the colonies having colonials to come and help reconstruct their Mother Country; and Jamaicans were among those who readily responded. None of this is irrelevant to considerations about the contemporary experience of descendants of those early migrants who were themselves descendants of a yet earlier generation, the exploitation of whose labour by British industrialists and entrepreneurs made the economic development of this country possible,” Professor Nettleford said.

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