Clonmel celebrates Jamaica Day
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
HUNDREDS OF schoolchildren and adults celebrated Jamaica Day at Clonmel Primary and Junior High School in St Mary last week with a programme of Caribbean-focused cultural events hosted by the Ministry of Education (MoE).
The project, which featured performances, activities and quizzes, aimed to develop patriotism and self-worth in young people by teaching them about Jamaica and its relationship with Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti, and Barbados.
Community relations education officer at Region Two of the MoE, Anniona Jones, told Rural Xpress: "Today is really a festival of sorts, which culminates all our education and cultural activities.
"Many of these children come from very humble beginnings and would not usually have the opportunity to vocalise and express themselves as proud Jamaican citizens, so we are trying to provide them with that opportunity.
"Anything that happens without design runs a great risk of not being done well, so if we are trying to build a country, there needs to be a design.
"We focus more on what we create rather than who we are creating, so we have a lot of white collar criminals and people who are accomplished, but don't have the kind of conscience and social awareness we want.
"Today's event is part of the design in creating the Jamaica we want because if we don't think about who the Jamaican ought to be, we end up with a situation where 60-odd per cent of the population wants to leave, and there is less volunteerism and fewer people who really care about the county or realise they are creating history and culture every day."
The school's principal, Claudia White-Wright, said: "We were selected by the MoE Region Two as the school of focus for their Jamaica Day celebrations and have put up booths with displays that explore the relationships we have with other Caribbean countries.
"It's a very important project because as they prepared the displays for each country, you could see the children learning and expressing themselves artistically, which really helps with their literacy, numeracy, history, writing and language skills."
lowest academic performers
Jones, who was the event's keynote speaker, noted that in most of the standardised national tests, Region Two, which comprises St Mary, St Thomas and Portland, is one of the lowest academic performers.
However, the educator insists that in addition to raising attainment levels, the ministry also has a responsibility to teach and instill civic pride in the young people they engage.
Jones said: "For us in Region Two, culture and education is not just about academics. It must be the spine, the vertebral column and philosophy that holds together everything we want our children to do.
"Whether you read very well or not, you must be proud and recognise you have something to contribute and that you don't have to tear somebody else down to build and can be proud enough to let somebody else stand on your shoulders if you're working towards the same goals.
"For us, culture is a way of getting people to recognise their value and teach them how to value others."