‘Cheese trix and bag juice culture must go’
Thwaites promotes planting school gardens
SCHOOLFIELD, St Elizabeth — Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites is promoting the planting of school gardens, particula rly in farming communities, as a way to cut the country's food import bill.
The country spent US$930 on food imports last year alone, an increase of some US$100 million when compared to 2012. This in spite of Government's 'Grow what you eat, Eat what you grow' campaign designed to promote the consumption of local foods.
"You are a farming community. Your background is in agriculture. Teach your children to love it also because it is the hope of our future," Thwaites said as he addressed the graduation ceremony at the north-east St Elizabeth-based Schoolfield Primary and Infant last Wednesday.
He said that children should be taught to love the foods that are produced locally and that fast food should become occasional treats.
"I go to so many schools and all they (the children) want is fried chicken and chips or rice. So often in our schools we have lost the pattern of teaching... our young children how to love the land and how to gain their prosperity and their nutrition from it. The cheese trix and bag juice culture must go...," said Thwaites.
Principal Prim Lewis, who took up duties in May of this year, told the Jamaica Observer Central that she supported the idea of a school garden and had in fact left a "booming" garden at Pedro Plains Primary where she was previously based.
The minister of education said he would throw his support behind the school's existing breakfast programme if assistance is needed. He also pledged to have the school accessing the Internet this year in order to complement the donation by school board Evon Redman of four computers and a projector.
"I promise whatever arm I have to twist to get you Internet access by September (or) at least by the end of this year, we are going to do that for you," said Thwaites.
The 19 graduates of Schoolfield Primary and Infant School will be pursuing secondary education at institutions across St Elizabeth. Thwaites had no argument with that, urging communities to believe that children can get good education at schools within their particular areas.
The minister added that education is defined as more than admirable examination passes, as good manners and being culturally strong are also important. He said, too, that technology and technical and vocational skills should be encouraged in the curriculum as part of the process of producing a well-rounded, educated population.
"We could legalise ganja and we could earn foreign exchange from it. I don't know if that's the right move [but] what I want to say [is that] the money would go through the system like a dose of salt unless we have an educated population," Thwaites argued.