WEDNESDAY June 27, 2012 was a wonderful day for me as I was very privileged to have been asked to address the Schools' Environmental Awards at the Knutsford Court Hotel. I was so amazed by the exhibitions that were presented by schools from across Jamaica. These little citizens educated me thoroughly on wetlands, oceans, forests, watersheds, caves, rivers, and showed me the intricacies and implications of our paying attention to our surroundings.
But the technical workings on display were so innovative that these students and their teachers must be recognised for the brilliance of their efforts, and for engaging their schools in having environmental clubs in so many areas across this nation. Some of these schools are in locations that I have never visited, in spite of the fact that I am an ardent rural explorer. I am now motivated to resume my travels, so as of Monday I will be on the road.
Let me explain some of the observations that made my entire day. Firstly, these young people were so neat with their clothing and personal grooming, and I wish that their photographs could be seen by all Jamaica. Secondly, their speech and grammar were flawless and all were capable of conversing in both our languages.
Thirdly, the ability to explain the science of our environment to adults and other children in clear ways and by demonstrations was superb. Fourthly, these children were so polite, but were in no way intimidated by interaction with the adults in attendance.
This was such a breath of fresh air that our parliamentarians will have to redouble their efforts in order to end my happiness. I stopped to wonder how we adults find so many ways to intimidate, influence, and enslave these beautiful children into "adults of mass destruction". This must be a special skill granted by the powers of evil in Jamaica that seem to be intent on using our children as targets for corruption.
This situation requires some thought, analysis, and action by those of us who are able to think and reason. The first item for contemplation is the effectiveness of rural versus urban living. It seems to me that the harsh oppression of living in limited urban spaces divided into narrow zones present a less adequate environment for learning than free rural societies. This moot asks us to consider the social effectiveness or lack thereof for garrisons in any developmental progress that contributes to enhanced education.
The second item is that urban living conditions do not have the same access to land, recreational spaces, and other physical surroundings that allow for the development of science and technology, particularly in the earth sciences that seem to be in great demand worldwide.
Third, the harsh conditions of urban life tend to breed a selfishness that reflects itself in poor human interaction, social disorder, and a disregard of communal good that in themselves tend to destroy their own future.
The failure of the sugar industry to live up to projections is again a point for public discussion and scrutiny. The perennial excuses of weather conditions, failure to have factories mechanically ready, and lack of proper conditions for haulage are cries that I have heard from I was born. We recognise the need for mechanisation and new industry practices but are unwilling to take the road.
We continue to sing sankeys about the plight of the sugar cane workers and their poverty, but we have made no efforts to improve their lot by providing the necessary tools for an escape from poverty. The investment in education in these disadvantaged communities needs consideration if poverty is to be defeated. Each of these areas requires comprehensive school systems that will alleviate the social and disciplinary conditions that exist in extreme household poverty.
These disadvantaged children need 20 more Hamptons, Westwoods, Munros, and the other examples of residential education, that is, boarding. The access to quality teachers, structured programmes of mental and physical development, nutrition, and discipline need to be considered in a developmental plan for poverty elimination. Proper access to study and homework facilities that encourage modern methods of learning and even the ability to read by electric lights are basic essentials.
Those of us in the private sector who can assist programmes such as homework centres, the churches with underutilised halls, community buildings, supported by interested parents and families must now be urged and influenced into helping our children. They deserve the greatest help because they possess the basic intellect that can influence the country's future success.
Let me say that if each of you experienced the appreciation and love that these children shower on those of us that choose to care, then you would understand the motivation that keeps me involved in the struggle even when my spirits are dampened by the adults that we have to confront every day. Believe me when I say that good can overcome evil, and even the rabid and divisive politics of this country will pale and die under our relentless efforts.
So even as we mismanage, misrepresent, and misinform, the efforts of the young people taking part in the National Senior Championships, and the Military Tattoo will surpass the vagaries of politics this weekend.
So I wish good luck to all the young Jamaicans who are striving for excellence and national pride in their endeavours in various ways. We will celebrate, we will be proud, we will be happy, and we will overcome because, as is said, "and a little child shall lead them".