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Be grateful to be Jamaican - Thwaites

Published:Friday | January 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer


Education Minister the Reverend Ronald Thwaites has weighed in on recently released survey results, in which many young Jamaicans indicated a willingness to give up their Jamaican citizenship to live and work elsewhere in the world.

In his keynote address at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Kiwanis Club International, held at the Montego Bay High School for Girls in St James, on Wednesday, Thwaites said that Jamaica provides many benefits for which citizens should be grateful.

"We need to be grateful for the benefits of being a Jamaican ... I saw recently the results of a survey that said that many young people would gladly give up on Jamaica and go elsewhere," said Thwaites, referencing a survey conducted by the Centre for Leadership and Governance, at the University of the West Indies, last April. It showed that approximately 43.2 per cent of persons under 18 years, and 49.3 per cent of young adults, would be willing to give up their Jamaican citizenship to find better opportunities elsewhere.

"While it is quite all right to go abroad and do what you can, study or work, and then come back ... you young people engaged in the Kiwanis group enjoy a tremendous deposit of freedom," the education minister continued. "You do not face the threat of being abducted, like in Nigeria, where the girls are taken away and forced into marriage at age 12 or 13. You are not forced into military service ... (and) you are not pressured because of your religious convictions or lack thereof."

Availability Of Education

Thwaites added that another benefit to be enjoyed in Jamaica is the availability of education to everyone.

"Give thanks that, in this land, unlike many countries that are richer than ours, there is a place in school, from the early-childhood sector, right through to the high-school sector, for every single Jamaican child," said Thwaites. "This nation contributes more to education than any other country in the Americas, except Cuba. Education is a pearl of great price in this land, and sometimes we take it for granted ...; it is a great privilege that is given to us."

The minister was speaking at a youth awards ceremony held to celebrate the Kiwanis International's 100th anniversary since it began its campaign of service in Detroit, Michigan in the United States, in 1915.

One hundred students from schools across western Jamaica were awarded for their involvement in the Kiwanis Club's service leadership programmes, including the Kiwanis K-Kids and Builders Clubs, the Key Club, the Bring-up Grades initiative, and the Circle-K club.