Students from high schools and tertiary institutions in the county of Middlesex had the opportunity to share their concerns, dreams, aspirations and vision for Jamaica with Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Honourable Dr. Patrick Allen, at a youth consultative breakfast, held last Friday (May 15), at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club.
The Youth Consultative Breakfast was held under the theme ‘I Believe’ and forms part of the Governor-General’s Achievement Awards programme.
Among the concerns raised by the students were the declining morals in the society, lack of proper parenting and available job opportunities for young people. A student from Glenmuir High School attributed Jamaica’s problems to low social morals and said that adults should be reminded that children are always looking for role models to emulate.
“I believe that Jamaica’s problems stem from low morals. When I look around my community, I see poor examples and we must remember that children are always looking for role models and adults to emulate; but Jamaica’s standards have been lowered,” the student said.
Another representative from St Jago High School said he believes that young people need affirmation from the adults in their lives, in order to enjoy success and be further motivated. He also expressed a desire to see more youth fora such as the Consultative Breakfast, where young people can engage in conversations with adults.
“We have this culture in Jamaica for adults to see youth as insignificant, not realising that young people are looking to adults as an example and for affirmation. These fora give us the opportunity to express our opinions and affirm our position in the Jamaican society. I would like to see more fora such as this and with more youths participating,” the student said.
Some students were openly supportive of their teachers and the work that they do. One student from St Hilda’s Diocesan High School told the gathering that more emphasis should be placed on Early Childhood Education. She further encouraged teachers to get to know their students better.
“I believe greater emphasis should be placed on Early Childhood Education. Parents should work more closely with their children, especially at that stage. Also, teachers should be aware of their students and their competency levels. Some students may not do very well in the traditional subject areas, but would do better if placed in a skills based class. Teachers should know their students,” she said.
In his response, the Governor-General said that while parents are important in shaping the lives of children, youth also have a responsibility to emulate and model good behaviour.
“Even in instances where parents do not provide the right guidance, children should seek out the right mentors. I urge you all to exceed the level of your parents and I encourage parents to support you as you do that,” he said.
His Excellency expressed profound appreciation for the students’ attendance and participation, adding that he was hopeful about Jamaica’s future as young people seemed to have grasped the concept of ‘I Believe. He said while there is no panacea for the ills of Jamaica, students should return to their schools and communities and use the things that are right with Jamaica to fix what is wrong with the country.
“There is no panacea for all that’s wrong with Jamaica. We just have to return to our communities and see what is good with Jamaica and see how it can be enhanced and built upon. You go forth this morning as ambassadors. You are Jamaica’s future and with that, you will make your mark,” the Governor-General said, as he charged the youth participants to believe in themselves and in the future of Jamaica.
Student representatives were drawn from McGrath, St Jago, Ferncourt, St Mary, St Catherine, Oracabessa, Glenmuir, Denbigh and St Hilda’s High Schools. Representatives from the Moneague College and Church Teachers’ College were also in attendance. Other youth consultations are planned for the counties of Cornwall and Surrey.
The youth consultative breakfast was sponsored by the Jamaica National Building Society, Caymanas Golf and Country Club and the Gleaner Company Ltd.