My dream for Jamaica
THe Editor, Sir:
For the better part of the past 40 years, the prospect for a better life for the average Jamaican has become so scarce, a proposition that one who desires achievement and success must leave our shores for foreign soil.
Only recently, a survey conducted by the Centre for Leadership and Government at the University of the West Indies found that almost half of young Jamaicans would be willing to give up their citizenship to live in another country, as they do not find that the country's affairs are being managed effectively to give them any confidence for a better future here.
We cannot advance the development of the country when our educated and skilled class is largely residing offshore, many effectively as economic refugees. We cannot develop our country by frustrating those who remain at home by denying them meaningful opportunities for personal development and success.
We must strive to make Jamaica a country where the opportunity for socio-economic advancement is made possible, encouraged and desired by all. We must create and put real meaning to that 'Jamaican Dream' to inspire every young boy and girl towards success right here in Jamaica.
We must build a Jamaica where merit is rewarded and where the opportunity for advancement is not largely determined by one's social status, surname or political connections. We must build a society in which hard work pays off and not one in which 'bandoolooism', cronyism and nepotism rein.
We must build a Jamaica in which those who tried and failed or who otherwise messed up at first are given an opportunity to redeem themselves.
We must resist the continuing enactment and expansion of social safety net programmes to allow the poor and vulnerable to just survive, but rather embrace the creation of opportunities to allow them to overcome their challenges and thrive without being a burden on the State.
We must develop our people by building and expanding our middle class. After all, when the middle class does well, the country as a whole advances.
There can be no social progress without progress in education. We must, therefore, continue to reform our education system and allow our teachers to engage in more one-on-one or tutoring sessions with the students for better pay and benefits.
We must expand the school day to allow time for more extra-curricular activities to encourage and facilitate the holistic development of our children. We must establish dedicated after-school centres in depressed or troubled communities to help to rescue our youth and improve the safety of our communities.
We must extend tax incentives to companies that provide employment to inner-city residents. We cannot continue to exclude some of our people, regardless of their abilities, merely on the basis of the communities in which they live.
Importantly, in order to move Jamaica forward, we need a new crop of politicians who will not be part of the problem, as experienced over the better part of the past 40 years, but who will stand up for Jamaica for a change and unite us around our common national identity for our collective good.
Every well-thinking Jamaican must take a stand and reject mediocrity, the politics of division and manipulation, and join in the fight for a better Jamaica for all of us.
KEVIN K.O. SANGSTER