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Orane: End educational apartheid in Jamaica now.

Published:Thursday | June 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Britney Huie (left), first-place winner in the National Child Month Committee's Youth Academic Achievement Awards for 2018, receives gifts from Christine Scott-Brown, executive director of the National Baking Company Foundation, main sponsor of the awards ceremony. Sixteen young men and women from non-traditional high schools received awards. Britney attended Irwin High School in St James.

The practice of many Jamaicans looking down on certain schools considered to be non-traditional cannot continue, says former chief executive officer of GraceKennedy Limited, Douglas Orane.

Orane was speaking yesterday at the 2018 staging of the National Child Month Committee's Youth Academic Achievement Awards held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew.

Sixteen top performers from non-traditional high schools located in 11 parishes were presented with special awards.

"I am so happy about this event. I went to Wolmer's Boys' School, and I am very grateful for the opportunity. But here is what we need to do: we cannot continue to just have [a handful] of schools that everybody is trying to get into.

"What we need to do is make sure all of our 1,000 schools become great schools. We have developed a system of educational apartheid, where we have a few good schools and people can't be bothered with the rest. That must come to an end," Orane declared.

Dr Pauline Mullings, chairperson for the National Child Month Committee, pointed out that exceptional students attending the least preferred schools were not usually celebrated.

"We thought about the children who attended the non-traditional high schools. Many persons felt they were rejects from the Grade Six Achievement Test. We set out to prove to our nation that in these schools, we have young people who are excelling," she said.

"But who talks about it? Nobody does. These young people are always doing very well, academically. They undergo challenging situations and they give back through involvement in community service," added Mullings.