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José Marti Tech celebrates 43 years ... Where students ‘work and study to become the total man’

Published:Tuesday | January 14, 2020 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
A section of José Marti Technical High School.
Prime Minister Michael Manley (left) receives the official documents for the José Marti Secondary School at Twickenham Park from the Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica, Ramon Pez Ferro (right), at the handover ceremony at the school. Others from left are Howard Cooke, minister of education, to whom the prime minister later presented the symbolic ‘key’ to the school, and St Catherine MP Ripton Macpherson.

Forty-three years ago, a newly constructed school opened its doors to 560 young Jamaicans intent on making their mark on the world. That was the birth of the José Marti Secondary School.

Today, its name has changed, it’s now a technical institution, but its intended purpose, to train and educate Jamaican students, is still at its centre, and is appropriately summed up in the motto: ‘Trabajando Y Estudiando Para Ser El Hombre Total’ – “Working and studying to be the total man”.

Named after the famed Cuban national hero, José Marti, the school is located between Central Village to the east and Twickenham Park to its west. Its iconic edifice was once thought to be a hotel. Such was its grandeur.

Such was its splendour, and on Friday, January 10, the school’s teachers and students celebrated its founding along with a Cuban delegation led by Ambassador Inés Fors Fernández, the guest of honour.

“The Cuban Revolution is a dream maker. Since January 1959, the words solidarity, cooperation and exchange took on special meanings. This school is a clear example of those values. Jamaica is grateful to Cuba for the gift but also Cuba is proud and thankful for the work carried out there by the students, teachers, workers and the community as a whole over these years. They all have honoured [the] school’s name,” said Fernández.

It was inaugurated on January 10, 1977 as a secondary school, as a gift from the Government and the people of Cuba to the Government and people of Jamaica.

“Despite the time elapsed and the changes the facilities have undergone since then, the presence of Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro and the former Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley can still be felt,” the ambassador said.

She said José Martí once said that “to pay tribute, no voice is weak” and that is precisely what we are doing today, paying tribute to history, to brotherhood, to friendship between our peoples, to solidarity between our governments, and to the great sympathy that united leaders like Michael Manley and Fidel Castro.

During the visit, the Cuban officials enjoyed a beautiful show, toured some of the facilities, and exchanged greetings with students, teachers, directors and former students of the institution.

The ambassador also laid a wreath at the bust of José Martí, Cuba´s national hero.

“This institution represents a historic and symbolic landmark of friendship between Jamaica and Cuba,” said Fernández.