Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor
Outspoken People's National Party (PNP) Councillor Patrick Roberts has come out in support of his political colleague Damion Crawford, who is under pressure in East Rural St Andrew over the spending of State funds.
Roberts has also chided fellow politicians on both sides of the political divide, who he described as lazy, going to the people only when they want votes.
"Some politicians just too lazy and they are not with the people and don't know the people," Roberts told The Sunday Gleaner.
"What Damion Crawford is doing, what Omar Davies is doing, and what I'm doing … is the way forward and the only alternative out of crime and violence right now," Roberts said while donating textbooks worth more than $1.7 million to students in the West Central St Andrew constituency.
"The difference between me and Damion Crawford … is that I'm not using State funds. My money is strictly from personal funds or corporate Jamaica, so it is done my way," added Roberts, as he sought to explain why he does not face the challenges now facing the first-time dreadlocked MP.
Crawford has reportedly decided to spend the majority of the money allocated to him through the Constituency Development Fund on education to the chagrin of some key party supporters in the constituency.
The detractors have also accused Crawford of making decisions without any input from the people who orchestrated his victory in the 2011 general election.
But Roberts said Crawford is moving in the right direction and he has a similar focus in the Molynes division, which he represents, and the wider constituency, which he lost to Opposition Leader Andrew Holness in the general election.
"Regardless of what anybody is saying, for Jamaica to see the way out, it must be education," said Roberts.
"Education is what I'm focusing on right now … . Outside of targeting the students who are doing GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test), I'm also focusing on the persons who have dropped out of school."
According to Roberts, he has already started a programme dubbed CARE (Community Adults Remedial Education), which is to be done in partnership with university lecturers and CARESS (Children at Risk Education Support Services), which is a homework programme.
SEVERAL BOOKS DONATED
Last Friday, Roberts donated sets of GSAT textbooks to more than 300 students and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) texts to approximately 100 students.
"What I'm doing now is to give all the students in the Molynes Gardens division who are sitting GSAT a set of four books, and I will give students at Penwood High School, the only high school in my division, sets of three CSEC books."
In addition to the students at Penwood, students from the Drews Avenue Primary and Infant School, APEX Kindergarten and Prep School, and Balcombe Drive Primary and Junior High Schools also received book packages.
Some students from the Olympic Primary and Dupont Primary, which are in the division represented by Roberts, also benefited from donations.
"Last year, I went out and solicited support for these books but the election was called and I did not see it fit to donate the books in an election year … so I put it back to this year," said Roberts.
"Education is the one key for Jamaica," he said.