Mon | Aug 21, 2017

The Brightest Minds Are Not In St Thomas - Custos

Published:Thursday | October 6, 2016 | 10:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Custos Marcia Bennett
Almeta Johnson
Errol Greene
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Noting that there is a constant migration of brilliant minds out of the parish of St Thomas, stakeholders said this is a major factor which has stifled growth and development in the parish.

Marcia Bennett, custos of the parish, who addressed journalists at a Gleaner Growth Forum, held recently at the Whispering Bamboo Cove Hotel, said there are only few young people who have opted to stay in the parish an issue she believes has resulted in the underdevelopment of the area.

"Our brightest minds are not in St Thomas, nobody stays," she declared.

"I was at a function and the question came up about the young people who want to stay in Jamaica, and 100 per cent said they would leave the country. That's not healthy, that's not good for any developing country," she said.

"I have a deep passion for this parish and I believe we can go somewhere, but, somehow, we are not moving," she lamented.

Similarly, Almeta Johnson, branch manager of the St Thomas Credit Union, who spoke as a resident of the parish, noted that there has been little or no development in the parish due to the lack of educational opportunities there.

"I've had a lot of observations. I have worked in several parishes and coming to St Thomas, I've always heard persons talking about issues regarding the growth and development, and I've seen it for myself. I do believe that one of the challenges is as it relates to education," Johnson said.

"I am concerned, because when I started working, I saw where persons were applying for jobs hand-written, with a torn book leaf. I've seen where I go to the bank to do a transaction, for example, and you have to assign officers who will assist persons in using the ATM (automated teller machine) ... . I do believe that in order for our parish to grow, persons have to be educated, especially as it relates to the technological era that we are living in," she said.

Secretary manager for the St Thomas Parish Council, Errol Greene, however, believes that the parish does not have an issue with brilliant minds but more with opportunities that will cause the youth to remain.

"We have in St Thomas, I believe, a very educated workforce. Certainly in the St Thomas Parish Council where I lead, the majority of my staff have a first degree. We have some of the brightest minds coming out of St Thomas, (but) how can we attract them? how can we keep them here?"

"Education is a challenge. We have some schools in St Thomas where the population of the school is under 20 and we know that is not sustainable. We need to find a way to see how we can either attract them back or how we can use the infrastructure better," Greene said.