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'We are killing those who are our future' — JTA

Slain teacher remembered as a ward of the state who defied the odds to excel

BY TANESHA MUNDLE Observer staff reporter mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 20, 2014    

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PRESIDENT-ELECT of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) Doran Dixon yesterday urged those responsible for fixing the crime problem to start treating the situation as "desperately serious".

"How many more young productive persons will have to die before we come to the realisation that we are in a crisis and those who have the duty... to stop this must begin to take it desperately serious?" Dixon questioned as he addressed the funeral service for Mona Primary School teacher, 26-year-old Paul Watson, at Andrew Memorial Seventh-Day on Hope Road in Kingston yesterday.

Watson's life was snuffed out by criminals who shot and killed him along with his friend Omar Campbell at a bar in Bay Shore Park, Harbour View, in Kingston on January 4. Three other people were also injured in the incident.

"It cannot continue to happen, and as a country we are killing those who are our future," Dixon lamented during the reflection on behalf of the Mico University College where Watson earned a teaching diploma, specialising in social studies and physical education.

The JTA executive, who remembered the slain teacher as a unique and hard-working individual said, "Watson was a different kind of youth; he was the kind of person who got involved and was into everything."

President of the JTA Dr Mark Nicely, in his tribute, said it was a sad time for the teaching fraternity as the terrible news of Watson's death was quickly followed by reports of the death of a student in St Mary by heart attack, the fatal stabbing of another student of Holland High in Trelawny and the murder of two others in St Elizabeth.

"We wish we could turn back the hands of time, but we will have to face the grim reality that our country is being plagued by crime and violence," he said.

Dr Nicely said he hopes that Jamaicans will commit themselves to help in the fight against crime and violence and realise that the police cannot do it alone.

"It is a task for every citizen of this country to do, it cannot be a case of you in your small corner and I in mine It has to be case of unity against crime, unity against violence," he added.

Watson, he said, was a committed individual who was insistent on advancing the welfare of the nation through facilitating education, but the reality is now a dream denied.

Nicely said the JTA was deeply saddened by Watson's death and condemns all acts of violence against the nation's teachers, the students, and education workers and pledged to work closely with the police in helping in the fight to rid the nation of crime and violence.

"Having visited the school, we know Mr Watson was serious about education. We know that he was committed to the welfare of others and we have heard of the sacrifices that he made for his colleagues and his students, and we pray that his soul will rest in peace," he said.

But even as the JTA executives call for more to be done in the fight against crime, Pastor Lewis Samuels is warning that the problem will not go away unless Jamaicans recognise the Creator and heed his commandments.

"If you look at the best in America, Russia and Japan and put them in charge of crime in Jamaica, it will not stop. In trying to solve the crime problem we are ignoring what God says, and it is not going to stop until we start obeying his word," Samuel says. "We need divine intervention and we are only going to get it when we obey God."

The JTA executive was among a long list of friends and family who brought glowing tributes as they reflected on the life of Watson, who was remembered as a ward of the state who defied the odds and excelled in his profession as a brilliant, helpful and caring teacher. He was described as not only a teacher but a friend, counsellor, justice of the peace and father to many children.

Evident at the service was the great love and respect that the students, teachers, parents and people who had encountered Watson had for him, which some could only express through their tears.

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