I relish moments like these and activities which recognize our youngsters for their academic achievements, and I wish to thank the JPS and Partners Cooperative Credit Union Limited, for their invitation to share in this function in honor of scholarship winners and their parents.
Each year, approximately 50,000 primary school students sit the Grade Six Achievement Test; however, when the results are received many parents experience the angst of financial challenges as they prepare for the transition of their children to high school. At this time a helping hand becomes a blessing, whether in the form of a bursary, book grant or some tangible assistance to defray the inevitable expenses.
The JPS and Partners Credit Union has been one of those ‘helping hands’ for some parents. Every year for the past twelve years, the Credit Union has made a provision of $1.3 Million available for scholarships at the secondary and also the tertiary levels. The 30 GSAT Bursaries and the Albert Morris Scholarship tenable at the University of Technology, over a three year period, represent a part of their contribution and investment in the future of Jamaica.
I believe that for these young people, who are beneficiaries of your kind assistance, you are helping to bring a sense of purpose to their lives; laying the foundation for greater development in our communities and by extension the nation. When these students complete their studies the expectation is that they will give back to their families and communities. In that way we hope that their action will serve as a motivation to others to “step up in life”.
I note the holistic approach that you take toward the well-being of your members. You are not only concerned about their financial needs, but the welfare of their families and the promotion of their health and wellness. The Care-a-bit Fund, free monthly health checks offered at the Credit Union, as well as your contribution to schools and charity organisations such as Central Branch Primary School and Food for the Poor, are some of the ways in which you demonstrate how to be a good neighbour.
I use this opportunity to commend the bursary and scholarship awardees for their success at the GSAT exams, and I encourage you to maximize the opportunity that is presented to you through this financial assistance. Many students are not as fortunate. Some have discontinued their studies for lack of resources, while others, withstanding great difficulties, have triumphed over adversities and achieved their academic goals. You should therefore ‘seize the moment’ because opportunities have a way of not returning the same way.
You will encounter moments of doubt while pursuing your studies and there will be times when you feel you want to give up. In those moments I ask you to reflect on the lives of two young Jamaicans who never gave up on their goals and are still continuing on their journey to complete their course.
The first is a young man born and raised in the inner city communities of Southside and Rae Town in Kingston. He grew up in a cramped two-apartment house that was shared by seventeen family members. His mother found it difficult to make ends meet, but she worked very hard and encouraged him to get an education.
He wanted to be an Accountant and kept very focused on his academics studies. He graduated from high school with a total of nine CXC and GCE subjects, and three A’ levels, including a distinction in Economics. Soon after, he was offered a job at a prestigious accounting firm as an Audit Trainee. Given his financial challenge to attend University, he opted to study for the Association of Certified Charted Accountants (ACCA) examination on his own and successfully completed all three levels of the that exam by the age of 21 without attending any classes.
The second story is that of a young lady from a working class family whose parents were barely surviving financially. She thought she would not be able to finish high school let alone University because of the financial difficulties her family faced. But she knew the value of getting good grades and realised that it was a source of joy for her mother; so she kept getting high marks in primary and high school.
She received good grades in her CXC and A’ level exams and encouraged by her teacher, she applied to study medicine at the University of the West Indies. To her surprise she was accepted. With her faith as her polestar, this young student traversed the first year, at the end of which, she was awarded a scholarship to complete the remainder of her studies. At graduation, she received the faculty prize for Anatomy.
These two young people had some things in common:
- They believed in themselves
- They had the support of their family
- They had faith and maturity
- They worked hard and did not allow their circumstances to limit them.
Each of you has the potential to achieve what you will, you have demonstrated that already.
I urge you; do not squander this opportunity that has been given to you by the JPS and Partners Credit Union. “Opportunity comes but once.” Remember:
“The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight. But they while their companions slept where toiling upward through the night.”
How high will you go? Attitude + Aptitude = Altitude
Parents, have a crucial role in this equation. I encourage you to prepare these youngsters well for high school and for life. The home is the first institution of learning, and the values you instill in them there will remain with then into adulthood. Many of our children go off course during their adolescence and while in high school, because of peer pressure get involved in drugs and other destructive behaviours. Some even become parents, a role that they were not emotionally prepared for. It is imperative that we do the necessary ground work and establish systems for proper guidance and appropriate boundaries.
I encourage parents to be a positive influence in the lives of your children, be their best friend and let them talk to you, openly and freely. Visit their schools, talk with their teachers, become involved in PTA meetings, and do what you can to improve the learning environment in which your children will spend a significant portion of their days. Spend time with your children and persistently instill in them worthwhile values such respect, kindness, love, punctuality, doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, forgiveness, sharing and caring. We live in a society that is rapidly becoming unkind and crude where there is very little respect for life.
I commend the JPS and Partners Credit Union for your continued commitment to service and for embracing the vision that education is the fundamental pillar for Jamaica’s development. It is clear that you believe in Jamaica and Jamaicans. The seeds you sow today will create visions in the minds of young Jamaicans who must believe that they “can accomplish what they will” for themselves, their God, and country.
Best wishes and success in your undertakings.