The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, ON, MP
Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation to Education Ceremony
North Lawns of Jamaica House
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Their Excellencies The Governor-General the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen and the Most Honourable Lady Allen
Dr. Peter Phillips, Leader of the Opposition
Senator Honourable Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, Youth and Information
Other Members of the Cabinet
The Honourable Mrs. Justice Carol Lawrence Beswick representing the Chief Justice
Ministers of State
Rev. Dr. Gordon Evans, President of the Jamaica Council of Churches
Ambassador the Hon. Douglas Saunders, Cabinet Secretary
Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives
Heads of Agencies and Departments
Mr. Howard Isaacs, President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association
The Recipients, our distinguished Educators
Families and Friends
Members of the Media
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am extremely pleased to welcome you to Jamaica House this evening as we honour and celebrate a wonderful group of Jamaican teachers for their service to our nation. Everyone knows that education has a special place in my heart, so this ceremony is of special significance.
We can never say “Thank you” enough to our teachers for the extraordinary commitment and dedication to shaping the lives and sharpening the minds of our children. This evening we take this opportunity to acknowledge 40 of our educators and to show our appreciation for their commitment and service and the difference that they have made and continue to make in the lives of our children and in our nation.
Today’s awardees come from across the island – from quiet hilly terrain to noisy urban centres. They have served from the early childhood to the post-secondary level; from engaging in classroom instruction to undertaking sometimes tedious administrative work. Each, no doubt, has a unique style that has allowed them to impart knowledge to their students in a manner that has awakened their intellectual curiosity and whetted their appetite for further learning.
There is however one thing that our teachers all share – an extraordinary devotion to duty and to nurturing the next generation. Ladies and gentlemen, you have been role models showing our children the importance of discipline and hard work and the importance of characteristics such as honesty and teamwork. You have been the mothers and fathers, the aunts and uncles, the ultimate caregivers and guardians to our children and communities. And you have soldiered on, year after year; doing this not for reward but as a true calling to serve.
You have stirred the imaginations of our children enabling them to embrace the idea that no matter the circumstances, an education is a tangible asset that will lead them to wider spheres of achievement, accomplishment and service.
Our teachers have also worked across generations, observing changes in the society not only in terms of behaviour and mores but also the tools of the trade. While keeping up with the changing tools of the profession, the fundamentals of our collective mission remain constant; and that is to mould the future of the nation, by moulding the people who will determine the future of our nation. We do so by providing our children with a balanced and well-rounded education, developing them to their full potential to become model citizens, conscious of their responsibilities to family, community and country.
Education is about more than academics. It prepares our students for life, for work and for citizenship. Our approaches, programmes, and areas of emphasis must keep pace to be relevant for the future. As our awardees had to adapt over the course of their professional lives, so will others who follow them. We talk about preparing our students for life; recognizing that change is constant; the life of someone who has grown up in an Internet world since his childhood days is vastly different from when we were growing up. The fast pace of technological advancements in all aspects of our lives today means that lifestyles, habits and trends change at an ever-increasing rate. It is almost impossible to keep updated with all the apps and trends out there.
So in many ways, the teachers are learning from their students how to adapt to this constantly changing world. We however must remain committed to imparting fundamental values and attitudes within a nurturing environment that allows for creativity and the cultivation of an inquiring and curious mind.
Beyond the current strengths in our education system, we must engender an attitude of lifelong learning and this is only possible when our students have a joy of learning.
Your examples of hard work and commitment to lifelong learning will continue to be an inspiration for years to come. I recognize all our teachers with a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude for the dedication with which they continue to play their role in building a confident and vibrant Jamaica.
I applaud teachers as the guiding stalwarts on the path to securing Jamaica’s future.
Congratulations and may God bless you all and may God bless Jamaica, land we love.