Most Hon. Andrew Holness, ON, MP
Prime Minister, Jamaica
Launch of Youth Summer Programme
August 10, 2017
Everybody knows that I love the song ‘My Dream’. There is nothing wrong with dreaming; people say you dream with your eyes closed but you have to move from the stage of dreaming to having a vision and the vision is done with your eyes open. It starts with introspection, contemplation of the inner passion to do something. I encourage all young people to have a dream to do that internal introspection. What is it that I want for myself, for my family, for my country and then to convert that dream into a vision. That is to open your eyes and start the plan to accomplish your dreams.
I have been dreaming of a new Jamaican; a land of peace and love. As we celebrate our 55th Independence, I am sure that you will reflect on the very sad events that have happened with the death, the murder of young Mickolle. It is of greater importance that the young people of this country reaffirm themselves to the dream of a peaceful and prosperous Jamaica.
So, I have been dreaming of a new Jamaica, a land of peace and love, a land of prosperity; a land where all our people can be fulfilled; a land where if you work hard you will be awarded not shafted, a land where if you go to school and study hard and you get your qualifications and certification you can get a job; a land where no matter which community you live in the sky is the limit for your achievement and attainment. This new Jamaica cannot just remain in our dreams, we have to do the things necessary to bring that dream to reality and I feel a great sense of obligation to you the young people of this country. To ensure that you can live in a country that is not a third world country but a first world country. I am of the firm belief that we can transition from third world to first world status in your generation. We have had some missteps in the past but we must learn from those mistakes, as each new day is a new opportunity. You have the opportunity to lead the transformation of this country.
As the person with the responsibility for the country my job is to ensure that you are empowered to transform your own country. A part of the transformation of the country in fulfilling the dream of the country is for us to have a very progressive culture. One thing I know about Jamaica is that we all want to ‘step up in life’. We are a very ambitious people but not all of us believe we must work to ‘step up in life’. There are some of us who believe we can be involved in crime and violence as a means of stepping up in life; there are some of us who believe that we can be involved in corruption as a mean to step up in life. I would want to see us as part of the Cultural Revolution. The cultural transformation is that every single Jamaican youth believe that by the sweat of our brow we shall eat bread.
Regardless of our historical context of slavery and colonialism nothing is wrong with hard work. I also believe that nothing is wrong with smart work either; in fact, you should work hard at working smart. I want it to be the ethos of the young people of this country that there is no success without sacrifice; that there is no reward without work, that must be the core ethos of the country. Your government is working on a policy of work that every Jamaican should be involved in some form of work. We work to earn, we work to learn, in giving in volunteering we work, we work to save, we work for our health, we work to protect our environment. So they are many areas in which every single Jamaican can be involved in meaningful work. Work that can make you a better person, make your family better, make your community better and make your country better.
I have given a direction to all ministers to develop national service boards that will give work opportunity for young people; because we want to instil this culture in our young people that it is by the sweat of your brow that you will get the new iPhone or the new Samsung phone. That is the system of merit that we want to instil. There is no freeness mentality anymore because that is the root of prosperity, work.
The Jamaican society has evolved over its 55 years of Independence, in a somewhat disorderly fashion. Make no mistake about it; there are those that like the disorder. They like the fact they don’t have any address. They shoot out the street lights so that the roads remain dark; they like the fact that they don’t have a national ID so nobody knows them. There is an element of the society that benefits from disorder but we have to change that. A precondition for prosperity, yes it is work, but a precondition is order, safety and security.
We have set up a system, the National Identification System, where every single Jamaican will have a National ID with a unique number; which will facilitate you doing business with government or private commercial concerns. It will make doing business much easier but we want to go a step further. We must make it such that every single road in Jamaica has a name, a street sign and a number attached to it so that you can have an address. That address should be geo-located so you can put it on a digital map. Currently, you can punch in the name of the road and you will find the road but you can’t punch in the address because we are not at that level of orderly development, but we have to get there.
A part of the task that you’re going to do, with this short window of work, is to see which streets are without street signs. Secondly, we will be taking an audit of our street lights as the government pays a significant bill for street lighting. Any debt the Government is taking on we have to audit it, we have to know which street lights are working. Some lights are so dim; it’s burning up the electricity but not generating any light. We want to know which street lights are out so that we can better provide the service for the community. For us to provide even better service we want to know about the shut- in’s across the island; because, a part of the remit of Local Government is to deal with some of the welfare issues in communities.
I am the representative for an inner-city community and I have recently changed the way in which I give service to the community. I have employed Community Service Officers whose job is to identify people who can’t come to my office, or simply don’t have the credit to make a call. We take the service to them, so that we can provide them with food and other packages as well as provide grooming services where necessary. A part of your job will be to go out and identify shut-ins and help us create a data base so that we can properly bring service to them.
The overall plan in which this falls is the HOPE programme. The HOPE programme will bring hope to Jamaicans, especially Jamaican young people, by providing them with work and employment opportunities. While this programme is only for a month when you’re finished, if you are not in school because many of you are taking this opportunity to be able to pay for your school fees or help with your back to school, I am encouraging you to benefit from the opportunity of participating in the HOPE programme when it is fully rolled out. I encourage you to contact HEART NTA or the NYS to become a part of the National Service Corps.
One National Service Corps that I will discuss with you today is what we call the digitisation corps. We have another service corps which we call the Geographically Information Systems (GIS) corps and the NWC has started the first set of young people in that service corps; where they are creating a geographic map of all the water meters in the country. This will help the NWC to determine where leaks are occurring. Very soon the NWC can look at a computer screen and see where all the meters are. This process will take us one step closer to having a digital map of Jamaica.
Ladies and gentleman this is how we bring order to the society. On that order, we can build greater safety and security and when we build safety and security in the communities that is the start of prosperity.
I was assured that the selection of the programme participants was done in a bi-partisan way; meaning that each Councillor was asked to recommend ten (10) persons per division and the Mayors to recommend fifteen (15). So, it was done respecting the legitimacy of the elective representative whether or not that representative is PNP or JLP. The transformation of the country can’t start with one political party and then not being continued, there must be things that we all agree on regardless of politics. I want to assure you that everyone is here based on their own merit.
Importantly as well, we thought that two weeks wouldn’t be enough and that a full month is needed to fully develop a skill. We want you to be occupied doing something meaningful. We don’t we want the criminals to occupy your time; we want you to help us to transform the country. We want to engage you and your minds because right now Jamaica is in a battle for the minds of the young people. In as much as I am standing here appealing to you, you have music appealing to you to do other things, you have movies and internet sites appealing to you to do other things, you have lottery scammers – criminals trying to parade as though what they are doing is justifiable, they are criminals that’s what they are. So I have to stand up along with the ministers and the councillors and appeal to you join us in the army to transform Jamaica. By participating in these kinds of exercises and initiatives you are voting for a better Jamaica; you are taking one steps closer to fulfilling the dream and creating the vision of an orderly, safe, secure, peaceful Jamaica.
God Bless You.