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Teach Garveyism carefully, warns Golding

BY COREY ROBINSON Sunday Observer staff reporter robinsonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 19, 2012    

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PRESIDENT of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) Steven Golding, has expressed concern regarding the teaching of Garveyism in schools starting in the September school term.

On Friday, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites launched the teaching of Garveyism as part of a new civics programme to be rolled out in public schools in another month. Thwaites posited that the move — which coincides with the 125th anniversary of Garvey's birth — will aid in bolstering students' self-awareness and dignity.

But hours after Thwaites' address at the launch in St Ann, Golding, speaking at the UNIA Marcus Garvey Awards IV at Devon House, Kingston, warned against improper delivery of the national hero's message to the nation's children.

"We want to make it absolutely clear to the ministry and to the powers that be who are listening, Garveyism is not simply the biography of Marcus Garvey... because there were many teachers who influenced him... people who shaped Garvey's thinking and who exposed to him the rich culture of Africa," said Golding.

"When we speak of teaching Garveyism, particularly at the primary (school) level. I would advise the ministry not to give them (students) Garvey's Philosophies and Opinions to read. That is a difficult book to read even at the secondary level," he said.

"Look more at correcting the improper way in which our colonial masters handled our education and how they taught us how to teach our history; move it from their viewpoint," he proposed.

Golding said schools should enable students to understand the pride and strength of their African ancestors, instead of being told that "we were dropped off by some boat from Africa".

Golding offered his advice and lauded the government's initiative, even while describing as unfortunate the dearth of consultation between the ministry and the UNIA prior to its launch.

Yesterday, Grace McLean, chief education officer at the Ministry of Education, explained that Garvey's philosophical teachings will be used as an over-arching guide to each topic in the teachers' manual.

"So every area that is being covered in civics will be prefaced by a quote from Garvey. The teachings of Garvey will be a theme that runs right through the manual," she said. "So if you are thinking about equity (as a theme); it will be guided by some quotes that Garvey would have made on equity," she continued.

"Also, we will look at the motivational aspect and how one can be guided by what someone like Marcus Garvey, our first national hero, has done," continued McLean.

She noted that the new civics programme is a product of extensive consultation with persons and institutions, including the UNIA, which has done extensive work on the subject of the national hero, particularly since the organisation was founded by the late civil rights activist.

In the meantime, veteran dubpoet and journalist, Mutabaruka, was awarded for his contribution to journalism, one of eight categories of awards issued at the UNIA ceremony. Subsumed in the categories are agriculture, arts, education, and business — all areas in which Garvey expressed great interest during his life.

Jamaican-born actress and Emmy Award winner, the late Madge Sinclair, was bestowed the organisation's Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously. It was collected by her son, Gary Sinclair.

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