|Dr Clover Baker-Brown (left), Horace 'Shad' Daley and Donna Scott-Duncan at the PJFJ Scholarship Awards held at the Pegasus Hotel on Sunday 11 August 2013|
How refreshing to listen to the passion of Dr Clover Baker-Brown and Horace ‘Shad’ Daley for their beloved Jamaica. They are two successful Jamaican professionals living in the USA, who spend most of their spare time pounding the pavement to raise funds for children in their home country. Horace, a CPA, Baruch and Calabar graduate, founded Professional Jamaicans for Jamaica (PJFJ) in 2010, setting up a Facebook page which carries all the latest news about education in his homeland. Sometimes I get the news from the PJFJ page before I see it locally, so alert is Horace to our national issues. “Only God can take a mess and make it into a message,” declares Horace. “Only He can transform a test into a testimony!”
Horace says Clover, a Howard University PhD and Holmwood Technical graduate, was one of the first persons to respond to his call on Facebook, and together they are the most persistent fundraisers for their beautiful aspirants to a better life. They started out raising funds for backpacks filled with school supplies. Then, on visiting the Trench Town Primary school, they saw the need for a breakfast feeding programme and have been sponsoring this since 2011.
|Chantal Wainwright, UWI student in Business receives her PJFJ Scholarship from Mrs Duncan-Scott|
To honour Jamaica’s 51st Anniversary of Independence, they presented 51 children from basic school to university, with scholarships last Sunday evening at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. Pint sized Malik Tinker from Trench Town Basic was dressed in his Sunday best to receive his award. I sat with a poised 10-year-old Alicia Graham of Ensom City Primary who was able to engage in a lively conversation on Usain Bolt’s exciting triumph in the Moscow World Championships 100M event. “Oh yes,” she said knowingly. “Justin Gatlin couldn’t keep up with Usain Bolt!”
I also met the articulate Chantal Wainwright, a second year business student at UWI who was like a big sister to the small children at her table. I was especially proud of dad Sheldon Edwards who was the picture of fatherly attention to young scholar Sheldon Junior.
|Malik Tinker of Trench Town Basic with admirers Dr Baker-Brown and Mrs Duncan-Scott|
It is the simple truth that ‘people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care’ and so the children were bowled over by their loving guest speaker. Donna explored the elements of happiness: “About 20 percent of factors we control that impact our happiness are related to material possessions,” she explained. “Eighty percent is related to how we see and care for ourselves, others, whether we feel we are making a difference in the world.”
As we become all worked up over the recent CSEC examination results, we should bear in mind Donna’s observation that a holistic education consists of both the academic, as well as that which builds our spiritual and emotional competencies. This is in keeping with that Emotional Quotient (EQ) identified by Dr Kwame McKenzie as mentioned in last week’s column, which is the life-blood of a country’s precious ‘mental capital’.
The most eloquent testimony to Donna Duncan-Scott’s belief in the power of spiritual and emotional competence comes from the breathtaking Gold-Medal performance of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the Moscow Women’s 100M and 200M events and her post-event interviews. As she prepared for the events, the young athlete of strong spiritual conviction stood smiling and calm. After her blistering runs, she engaged the awed reporters in her pre-race analysis, how she should perform in a field of fast-finishers, her prayers for God’s guidance, her appreciation of the support from her family and sponsors.
|Triple World Champs Gold Medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce|
And so, as we hear the troubling news about the rising level of unemployment, let us consider if the kind of education we are offering our children will produce the world class performers that we have been so proud to name in almost every field of endeavour. Let us require of our teachers that they show the confidence and enthusiasm needed to build a nation. Let us require of our pricey tertiary institutions that they do the research to give solid career guidance to hopeful young students so that they graduate energetic and employable.
Let all those parents and institutions who fund scholarships take our schools and colleges to task as to the quality of education they are offering our children. In every field of endeavour, we should be so proud of our work that performance assessment is not something to be feared, but to be welcomed.
|Dr Baker-Brown and Mr Daley show off their promotional T-Shirt when we met Devon House|