[OPINIONS]:::Montego Bay - a city of potential, but....

No. 55 Wednesday, February 17, 2010
[POSTED BY::: Dr. Noel Smith Williams] I am presently lecturing a set of students in an exciting course, 'Introduction to Politics'. Many of deliberation that unfold pant to people who want to see meaningful changes to the social and educational structure of Montego Bay and by extension St. James.

   I took the deliberations and had discussion with Mr. Gavin Edmond, CEO of the Montego Bay E-Learning school, a small school that is preparing students for the GSAT Examinations better than any other GSAT cohort in Montego Bay. It was Mr. Edmond who made the statement and motivated me to express my thought process.
   Montego Bay is the city of potential but there are too many factors mitigating against the potential becoming kinetic. Firstly, towards the end of2009 Montego Bay has seen an entry of tertiary education giants UWI and UTECH, along with UCC being all credited. These are in addition to Sam Sharpe Teachers College, Mico University College, Montego Bay Community College and the High Schools and many Private Schools. All in all, Montego Bay has adequate number of educational institutions to create the educational vision for the city, but too many persons are still illiterate or cannot see the value of education. Outside of Mt Alverna, Montego Bay High School and Cornwall College, the other High schools are being fooled that they are doing well in CXC, because students are passing 8, 9 or 10 subjects.
   I explained to a group of educators that CXC calculate the passes against the 11 grade cohort, not against the number of students who took the examinations. For example when a school has 10, eleven grades with a total of 400 students, but only allows 200 to set CXC examination that is not good. The truth is, 40 of the 200 who sat the exam passed five or more subjects and their names are published and they are awarded. Indeed the students would have done well but the school is not doing well. The 40 students represent one class, but there are nine other eleven grade classes. When a school has 10 eleven grades classes but only five are qualified to sit the CXC, something is fundamentally wrong, it shows that the Human Resource is there, but there are factors preventing these students from being ready to pass such exams. I cannot blame the teachers; if I do blame the teachers then I must blame the leadership of the school. Many Principals, want to run the government school, like how they run their house. Many Principals do not listen to classroom teachers and feel that only their thought process is correct. Many Principals do not even speak to classroom teachers much less to encourage them, I speak from experience.
   Then there are the parents who, cannot articulate the importance of education to their children and cannot sell the product education to themselves much less to their neighbours children. Parents are not only unable to raise their children into educated beings but they are not caring to other people children. The days are long gone in Montego Bay where adults were the parents of all the children, biological and non-biological. Parents have adopted an easier role that is they breed shotas and raised scammers. The likely question to the parents of Montego Bay is after the scamming what else? How could we replace education with scamming in a city where there are so many public and private educational institutions offering education free and at reasonable price.
   When did things go wrong in this city that St. James street and Barnett street , sidewalks have been transformed into stores, strong young men have been assigned the duty to relieve people especially children and woman of their phones and money. I am amazed that a city with such potentials could be embedded in crime that within a two week period 6 houses were burnt out by angels and several persons nursing gunshot wounds while funeral services are being planned for others. How come Montego Bay with such beauty, the hip strip, the habour, the free zone, the airport and many other important structures could be overcome by crime and violence? Who is to be blamed? The politicians, I think not, the Mayor of Montego Bay, no; the business people no, the police no. I really think it is a case of missed placed attitudes and values.
   There is a picture frame in Nova Scotia Bank on Barnett Street, I invite all young people to go and read it. It points to the fact that, "a generation can change its destiny by changing its attitude". If young people can change their attitudes then big praise must be poured on the shoulders of Mayor Charles Sinclair for having organized the flow of traffic in the city as it seen in First World Countries. Even when this is so, many taxi drivers believe that the green lights mean stop and take up passengers and drive off at your own pace and the Red Lights mean park for more passengers. If young people can change their attitudes, then more of them should be in some form of training to enhance self development, for Montego Bay is a city with potentials. It is a city that has all the components for a first world country; we just need to get it right. I see Dr, Horace Chang spending millions fixing roads in inner city. Flankers has been transformed into a decent town, Glendevon is earmarked for road improvement, Norwood is earmarked for road improvement, Bogue road is being worked on, but we are only a city of potentials yet to be
   This unfolding must come with a significant rise in the number of students passing five or more CXC subjects. It must come with more GSAT students getting scholarships. It must come with school turning out more literate students than the vast number of illiterate students. It must come with parents under- standing the value of education and act on the understanding. It must come with young people changing their attitudes in order to change their destiny.
   In conclusion meaningful change needs to come from us, from every person that is christened a Jamaican. The change has to come from leaders, parents, teachers taking the responsibility to ensure that the youngest of us is given the opportunity to succeed. We must help the young come to an understanding that education is of paramount importance that scamming and the shota life style can only go so far. If all players involved are truthful and honest and full of integrity I believe Montego Bay will move from potential to Kinetic. There are too many educational institutions for Montego Bay to still be so illiterate. We must lead the people to the promise as the statement said. "A generation can change its destiny by changing its attitude."

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