March 28, 2014

A very good morning to every one of you!

As Patron of the Respect Agenda Programme, I am pleased to welcome you to King’s House for this ceremony which will formally confirm seventy five professionals as National Mentors in this Programme.

I would like to commend you, National Mentors, for having pledged to invest of yourselves in service to students of your respective Alma Mater.

I think many of you are already fully involved in some other project in support of your school, whether it be financial assistance to needy students, or the upgrading of the school’s facilities.

I also believe that many of you are active in the Parent-Teachers or Past Students Associations.  And so, your readiness to serve validates the view that busy people are most committed volunteers.

Bearing in mind the season in which we are, when your schools’ athletes are vying for medals in Schools Champs.  And it is certainly going to be an exciting event this year. I can’t cheer for any special team as I am already cheering for all the young people who will be competing. I must also commend them for a violence-free event. This is a good indication of what we would like to see executed in Jamaica; a Jamaica that is free of violence and crime. We can learn so much from our young people today.

Each year I am amazed by the wealth of talent our students display in track and field and this year is no different. Records have already been broken!  We can’t help but be proud of our youth. Let me just say upfront: I am totally impartial; may the best athletes win!

Win or lose, we must maintain our support for our students especially in these times of competing value systems, and the attraction many of our youth feel towards poor role models. There is ample evidence that our schools are under attack. Too many students have lost their self-respect and some are either victims or perpetrators of crime.

Our society is bedeviled also by poor parenting skills and in some cases, the absence of parents or authority figures to provide sound guidance. Teachers and guidance counselors cannot bear the burden alone.

A mentorship programme such as this is not merely relevant. It is essential.

Under the “I Believe” Initiative, which is part of the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence, we have a group of Ambassadors who serve as Mentors at the Holy Trinity High School. They are drawn from various professions. None of them attended Holy Trinity High School. Though they have bonded well with their mentees and are inspiring them in various ways, the fact is that they cannot say: “I am a graduate of HTHS and whatever I have achieved in life, so can you, if you are prepared to work hard and make right life choices”.

National Mentors can bond their Alma Mater with their mentees. This is the specific value-added which this Mentorship Programme brings to our schools. I wish for the Programme’s complete success and look forward to its rapid spread across the island.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to ask Ambassador Burchell Whiteman to receive these seventy five Instruments of Appointment on behalf of the first group of National Mentors under the Respect Agenda Programme.