Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Dr. Patrick Allen, has said that increased emphasis must be placed on building good family structures, in order to address the nation’s social ills.
“We must raise our children better, we must socialise them better and educate them better. The family is the cradle of the nation. Fix the cradle and we will fix the nation,” he stressed.
The Governor-General was delivering the Throne Speech, at the State opening of Parliament, on April 7.
He noted that to this end, the National Parenting Commission would be established this year, to provide support for wholesome family life and guide intervention measures where dysfunctionalities are identified.
“It will work in tandem with the National Transformation Programme, which is geared to transforming behaviour, instilling hope and pride and infusing a new spirit of peace, unity and co-operation in troubled communities, through the co-ordination of the work of state agencies and non-governmental organisations,” he said.
He also called for greater co-operation and unity among the nation’s leaders, noting that the Government and the Opposition must set the example and “be constantly engaged in a new dialogue, respectful of their differences, but deeply mindful that the Jamaica that unites us is infinitely greater than the political parties that divide us.”
“In the face of all the uncertainties that now beset us, one thing is clear – we are all in this together and we can only get out of it if we move forward together. The need for unity in the face of adversity has never been greater. Now, more than ever, it is time for a new dialogue and a new partnership,” the Governor-General said.
Dr. Allen argued that the social partnership involving the Government, the Opposition, private sector and trade unions must be supported and strengthened. “We must each be prepared to subordinate our individual and sectional interests to the national interest. We must be prepared to make commitments and be diligent in honouring those commitments,” he said.
The Governor-General also urged individuals at the community level to work together and use their various community-based organisations to identify their priorities, the opportunities that can be explored and the programmes of assistance that can be accessed, noting that “strong families and strong communities guarantee a strong nation.”
Dr. Allen said that transforming the education system is of urgent national priority, noting that economic growth cannot be realised without an educated, competent workforce.
“While the emphasis in the past has been on access to education, equal attention must now be paid to the deficiencies in the quality of education and accountability within our educational institutions. The establishment of the National Education Inspectorate and the Jamaica Teaching Council, which will become operational this year, are important steps in that regard,” he said.