Education and Youth Minister Mrs Fayval Williams is fully entitled to every ounce of pride she displayed in announcing last week that 584 schools in Jamaica are now offering the subject of civics with a fully developed curriculum.
Last year May, we commented in this newspaper on the appearance of, in less than a week, two civics publications, following the long absence of the subject from the school curriculum.
One was the full-fledged, 206-page, school-ready text by writer Ms Joanne Simpson and the other a 62-page handbook by then Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown's office, both hoping to fill the gap by targeting young Jamaicans.
Mrs Williams' announcement represents further progress on the path to full return of civics to the classrooms of Jamaica, starting with 479 primary schools and 105 secondary schools, approximately half of all the schools in Jamaica.
We recall that when the civics curriculum for various grades was launched on December 13, 2022, only 93 schools had been offering the subject.
"As we move more into this new school year, we are expecting additional schools to come on board, and by the time we end this school year we are expecting that all of our primary and secondary schools will have civics in schools," the minister told journalists at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.
There is enduring and widespread belief among Jamaicans, especially those of the generations who were taught civics, and who can't forget LC Ruddock's 1967 Civics For Young Jamaicans, that it is necessary to provide valuable lessons on basic issues such as the parliamentary system, how government functions, and a template for social behaviour.
Some have blamed the rampant indiscipline, disorderliness in the society, absence of pride in keeping our surroundings clean, lack of manners and disrespect for traditional institutions on the general lack of knowledge of civics among the Jamaican youth.
For that reason, we strongly encourage Minister Williams, if she is not already planning to do so, to extend the civics thrust to tertiary-level institutions, as it is well argued that civics is a bridge over for students into adult society.
We are assuming in this space that the Jamaican civics texts are taking pride of place, including addition to the schoolbook retail scheme, to reward and encourage our own Jamaicans to continue to build out more material.
Historically, the education ministry has not been a beacon of light in embracing Jamaican writers, preferring to look overseas for textbooks, and ignoring long rumours that to break through this wall of indifference would take serious cash incentives.
In this respect, Mrs Williams can be a symbol of hope for a new path towards a kinder, gentler Jamaica through civics education, one that emerges from the experiences of the Jamaican people and embracing their aspirations.
Truth be told, we have lost several generations since Civics was removed from the curriculum, and while it will be impossible to reach them all, it would be simply wonderful to see our writers producing books tailored for the general public as well.
We agree with the minister that to realise the National Development Plan called Vision 2030 is dependent on a particular kind of Jamaican, one who "understands his or her rights and responsibilities".