Saturday, November 10, 2018

Jamaica's leaders step up for our students

Dr Henley Morgan is greeted by an appreciative student. At left is Hon Steadman Fuller, Custos of Kingston and Co-Founder-Chairman the Kingston & St. Andrew Development Foundation. He is also Chairman of
 Kingston Bookshop Ltd, major sponsors of the KSA Foundation

Observer column published 5 NOV 2018

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

We were given a reality check on the nation’s children last week, and so we welcome the upcoming interaction of Jamaica’s leaders with students. The room vibrated with positivity at the Jamaica Conference Centre for the recent launch of the Kingston & St. Andrew Foundation Student Motivational Programme. Main speaker Dr. Henley Morgan announced that he held a record as a student at Ardenne High School, but as the audience started to applaud, he held up his hand to stop them.

“I broke the record as the student who had the most repeats in several forms at Ardenne High School,” he said to the startled gathering.  He said that his despondent father visited the Principal, Mrs. Olson, and asked her, “Please tell me what is wrong with this boy’s brain.” She responded, “There is nothing wrong with his brain, Reverend Morgan, the problem is with his mind.”

This was a turning point in Dr. Morgan’s life. He embraced the challenge to align brain and mind, transitioning from being a failing student to one of academic excellence – as he noted, “with more degrees than a thermometer.” 

Dr. Morgan’s Principal was, indeed, a perceptive educator – one who took the time to study her student. This is the insight and compassion demanded of those who take up a foundational profession that can make or break a child, a family and, indeed, a nation.

Dr. Henley Morgan, a Fortune 500 management consultant who moved his business into the heart of Trench Town, turned over $700 million last year to bolster its local economy. “You can achieve without selling your soul,” he advised.

The Co-founder and Chairman of the Kingston & St. Andrew Development Foundation, Kingston Custos Steadman Fuller, reminded us of the responsibility we have to our children. “The real objectives of the Programme are to get outstanding citizens to start a conversation with our young people,” he noted. “We have abandoned our young people and they have been put into a category as rude and uncouth, under educated and without a future, but we fail to understand those descriptions are about our own children.”

Political Ombudsman Hon Donna Parchment-Brown (left) and
MP Antony Hylton (right) are among the participants in the Programme
He challenged us to “take responsibility to see that our students are given all the opportunities to develop themselves as leaders, ready to replace us in the management of our country and businesses.”

Custos Fuller himself is a fine example of leadership and philanthropy.  Though his company, Kingston Bookshop Limited, he has sponsored the creation and operation of the Kingston & St. Andrew Development Foundation. He shared a sober truth: “I believe that our generation is afraid of the fact that we’ll have to make the transition and hand over to our young people in a short time; not when they are old as us.”
Custos Fuller, a trained teacher, opined, “I know Minister of Education has been doing a fine job in the development of education,” he said, “but for Jamaica to achieve its 2030 Vision we will need to build about 50 smart schools and to upgrade most of the present school structures and come up with new and technologically smart methods of teaching.”

Students listen in rapt attention
In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, 40 motivational speakers have agreed to visit high schools in Kingston and St. Andrew before the end of the year.  They include Prime Minister Andrew Holness, former Prime Ministers Portia Simpson Miller, Bruce Golding and PJ Patterson, Lady Patricia Allen, Custodes Fuller and Dr Patricia Dunwell, Chief Justice Brian Sykes, Ministers of Government MP Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, MP Fayval Williams, MP Ruel Reid, MP Floyd Green and Opposition MP Anthony Hylton, Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson and other leaders in business, education and civil society.

Director for Education Services in the Ministry's Region One, Dr. Kasan Troupe, urged the students to seize the opportunities which education offered them.  She quoted motivational speaker Les Brown, “Don’t let your dreams die with you.” She reflected on the challenges she faced as the child of a single mother living in the inner city, and her decision that she would aspire to the highest goals. “Programme yourself for success,” she urged.

It is said that young people are deeply motivated by their peers and so we felt excitement in the room when Fabian Morris, President of the National Secondary Schools Student Council stepped up to address his fellow students. He challenged them to “Imagine a Jamaica, where the average youth is fully self-aware that he/she is not just here to exist but rather to make a positive difference in this world.”

He said: “Sir Patrick Allen, Governor General of Jamaica, more often than not reminds us that there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed with what is right with Jamaica. Colleagues, we have a great task ahead of us today, and that is to ensure that we become intentional about welcoming and motivating ourselves, whilst striving to live an empowered life.”
He then offered these four guidelines – worthy of being posted above every home study desk:
1.     Resist the urge to entertain negative self-talk. What you tell yourself every day you will believe and live out.
2.     Assess your circle of friends, because, who you truly are is manifested by the people we call friends
3.     Guard your mind, remember, if you feed your mind an unhealthy diet, you are destined to become sick maybe not physically but mentally. Read an uplifting book, listen to a motivational podcast, use kind words to affirm your worth. “I am bold, I am smart, I am loved, I am becoming better every day.”
4.     Lastly, let’s be open to celebrating ourselves and not comparing ourselves with others. Let’s vow to never allow comparison to rob us of our uniqueness.

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