Rita Marley Public Speaking Competition winners meet University heads
Seven finalists from the Rita Marley Foundation (JA) 2018 Public Speaking Competition & 2017 Essay Competition recently met Professor Stephen Vasciannie, president of the University of Technology, and Dr Dale Webber, pro vice chancellor of Graduate Studies & Research, University of the West Indies, Mona, and held wide-ranging discussions.
The students, York Castle High School's Joel Lyn; Wolmer's Girls' High School's Danelle Mathews, Kuan Kera Wheatley, and Tamoy Campbell; Immaculate Conception High School's Tanisha Francis; Jamaica College's Rolando Alberts; and Wolmer's Boys' High School's Trevon Fletcher got an insight into how to shape their careers and tertiary education, in general.
The high-schoolers said that they are looking forward to pursuing careers in technology, medicine, law, politics, business and linguistics.
Each student came equipped with questions on how to attain academic and professional success. The two academicians were accommodating and gave valuable information to the students. They also touched upon the socio-cultural issues affecting Jamaica and the wider world.
During the discussions with Vasciannie, the high-schoolers voiced a preference for co-educational schools.
The co-ed system, the students opined, enables them to develop the best in themselves. They further suggested that in the all-boys or all-girls' schools, there should be some amount of co-ed culture, where subjects such as home economics and theatre arts could be jointly pursued.
There has been a shift in subject preferences.
Nadine Thomas, teacher at Wolmer's Girls' High School, shared that before 2011, most girls were going into the arts, and now, one can see that the girls are going into the sciences.
She said, "Students' career paths are influenced by socialisation and what the students are pushed to do."
The students also put forward their views on gender bias and discrimination. Some said that they don't see any solution in sight. They said that although more women are at primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions, more men are in the workforce.
Wolmer's Boys' High School teacher, Karen Gobern said that "some young men are from single-parent families tasked with the responsibility of financial providers upon completion of high school. For this reason, they seek work first and education in later years. Society caters to moulding the girl child, while it harbours the belief that boys must man up".
Vasciannie advised the students that "preparation at university is to fight the world's fight. To help others succeed. School is for us to be able to help others".
He also encouraged the students to apply for Rhodes scholarships and furnished information for appying.
Webber talked about the UWI and also guided students on subject selection to assist with their career paths. Carolyn Hayle from Tourism Studies, UWI and Suchetta Stephenson, administration officer, research, UWI, reiterated that Education was "the best tool for upward mobility".
They encouraged students to "do what you love, not what makes the most money. What you love will lead you to money. Some students are failing because they are pursuing their parents' dreams - the careers their parents want them to pursue, not what the student loves."
The students were thankful for this opportunity and for the public speaking competition.
"The competition empowers and encourages participants to voice their opinions in a formal setting and to influence others," said Kuan Kera Wheatley.
"We are not a silent generation. We have a platform to voice our thoughts," Rolando Alberts added.
Vasciannie and Webber lauded the Rita Marley Foundation and its work with youth. The group also toured the Bob Marley Museum.