Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Cabbies ruining ambitions of St Thomas kids

Published:Saturday | May 14, 2016 | 5:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The 2016 Collector's Edition of the The Jamaican Magazine features the parish of St Thomas. It turns the spotlight on the history of a once prosperous parish with many former sugar estates now ruinate.

An article notes that it was in 1961 that the parish received its first high school. This was a parish that sustained the brunt of the geographic and economic hurricanes because of its location and vulnerability. People have been migrating from this parish in their thousands for decades.

On Tuesday's news, we saw taxi drivers take action to force the Government and the National Works Agency to fix the roads by blocking access along thoroughfares, thus making it very difficult for children to go to school. This was particularly problematic for the principal of Seaforth High, who had to arrange for the school bus to pick up the children doing external exams. An exhausted policeman explained that it was illegal to do this. The member of parliament got a mention.

How on God's earth can a parish which experiences high rates of illiteracy, economic underdevelopment and a general sense of blight be a location for making it hard for children to go to school? No matter how frustrated the taxi drivers are, they must realise that they must take some responsibility for this fiasco.

Did George William Gordon and Paul Bogle, as well as many others, die for their great grandchildren to be illiterate and filled with despondency? I hope not. In a conversation with a student of the parish at the University of the West Indies, I learned that the closure of the estates and Goodyear had resulted in children being kept at home and that there were many whose levels of literacy had lapsed or who were just illiterate.

This parish needs a plan, a new level of consciousness, and leaders at all levels who can inspire people to do great things.

HILARY ROBERTSON-HICKLING

hilary.hickling@gmail.com

UWI, Mona