Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
PORTMORE, St Catherine:COLIN FAGAN, Member of Parliament (MP) for South East St Catherine, has served notice that he intends to discontinue aid to beneficiaries of his annual back-to-school project who waste their time in school.
Fagan, for years, has been using a portion of his Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to provide help for students at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels to meet the cost of tuition and books. However, this financial year the CDF for each MP was cut by $5 million to $15 million, with Fagan allocating only $2.5 of his to education, warning failing students to buckle down or lose this assistance.
He told them: "Some of the students here are not doing very well in school and ... students, parents, grandparents, guardians ... it is not my intention to support students who waste time. I want to help all of you going forward, but I cannot afford to help those who are wasting time."
Explaining that in his two decades as a politician this was one of the most challenging years facing Jamaica and the rest of the world, Fagan appealed to the youngsters to help him to continue helping them.
Said he: "Children, some of you see how hard your parents and grandparents have to be working to ensure that you have a good life. For heavens sake, go to school and do your best."
Addressing a packed auditorium Fagan used the example of a water tank filled with the precious liquid to show the constraints of how much he could do with the limited CDF resources.
"The money I have for back to school is like that tank with water and everybody want a little," argued Fagan. "I can't give one man half of the drum and can't give another five buckets because there is going to be another man who don't have enough to quench his thirst or to cook a little food, so when it done it done."
For this reason, Fagan blasted the parents, guardians and other caregivers who fail to properly supervise the youngsters in their charge in order to ensure that they make the best use of their school time. Explaining that he personally reads the report cards, the MP said he had observed that while some students had a 100 per cent attendance record, this was inconsistent with their failing grades. Upon checking the caregivers for an explanation of the disparity, the veteran politician said it was a common thread that instead of helping them to focus on their lessons or work out the problems, in most cases parents were finding excuses for the children.
Blasting these caregivers for their lackadaisical approach, the politician said that this failure to help the children get on track would result in them losing the financial support since this was contingent on good grades.