JIS News

Minister of Information, Senator Burchell Whiteman has urged students participating in the Access to Information (ATI) Schools competition to use the contest as a means of increasing their understanding of the Jamaican society, and improving their ability to advance the development of their community and country.
“The broader society will benefit from the infusion of a cadre of young persons more aware and better informed on important issues of concern,” the Senator told them.
He was speaking to the students at the launch of the competition that was held at Jamaica House on Thursday (Sept. 29).
Minister Whiteman further advised the students that their learning process of accessing government information would assist “to move us as a people from acting on emotion and at times from a position of ignorance, to enlightened and informed participation in the governance structures of our country”.
The Access to Information Act, which was passed in 2002, provides a right of access to all residents of Jamaica to official documents held by public bodies, through approved processes of request, arrangements to view, obtain copies, or listen, and in cases of personal documents for the person to be able to make corrections in the prescribed manner to such documents which are found to be inaccurate.
He called on the young participants to be integrally involved in building the island, making Jamaica a “world class nation and a first country”.
“This is not an impossible dream, and certainly not for you in your lifetime,” the Minister said, adding that “we have the talent, we have the natural resources, we have the institutions to create an even more vibrant democracy and a more just and equitable society”.
The ATI Students’ Challenge is a joint venture between the Access to Information Stakeholders Committee and the Gleaner Company Limited. Six high schools are participants in the competition, including Kingston College, St. George’s College, Glenmuir High, Guys Hill High, Wolmers Boys School, and Dunoon Technical High. Teams from each school comprise no fewer than four students and a teacher. Each team is required to submit a question to a Ministry that is of particular interest and importance to the locality of the school.
The teams will be required to create log books in which all activities related to the question is documented, and provide the contest’s organisers with a copy of the application letter requesting information as well as the log book.
Participants in the competition will be awarded $16,000 each for the two teams with the best overall projects; while the teachers of the two teams will receive $8,000; the best kept log will receive a $5,000 prize, and the most practical request will receive $5,000.

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