THE GLEANER: Minister of Education Ruel Reid has called for a deeper infusion of the right values and attitudes into education if the country is to effectively reduce violence.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony for Guys Hill High School in St Catherine at the Guys Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church last week, Reid said that education without values is meaningless.
"If you're not careful, even those who have benefited from education could fall prey (to criminality)," he said.
"I'm saying all of this because there is a need for good values - values of honesty, values of respect, values of excellence, value of life," said the education minister.
His comments came as the country fights an upsurge in murders, especially in western Jamaica.
Reid said that if wholesome "values and attitudes" are not made to complement efforts to transform the education system, then schools will churn out undisciplined students.
"What, then, would be the value and purpose of education?" he asked.
He urged graduates to become change agents and to make a difference by exerting positive influences over their peers.
Carlene Edwards, sponsorship and events manager at JN Bank, reminded the graduates that the difference they will make in their spheres will be based on the nurturing and caring they received while at Guys Hill High School.
Edwards, a former prefect and student council president at the school, urged graduates to be confident, bold and different as they make their journey towards higher education and into the world of work.
"Believe me when I say the seeds of confidence sown here will make you stand out from others. It will make you certain of who are and what you can accomplish," the Guy's Hill alumnus told graduates.
"As our first national hero, Marcus Garvey, said, without confidence you are twice defeated in this race we call life. Therefore, to make a difference, young men and young ladies of Guys Hill, you will have to be bold; and to be bold you will have to be confident in who you are and what you can accomplish," Edwards said.
Principal Joan Davis highlighted that the rural school, which caters to some 1,200 students from the parishes of St Mary, St Catherine and St Ann, achieved 100 per cent passes in various subjects in the 2016 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
Davis noted that the school has been encouraging students to sit some CSEC subjects from as early as third form. One of two students who sat exams last year passed three subjects, earning two distinctions and a credit.
At the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency (CAPE) level, the school has also been performing well. She said 100 per cent of the cohort passed communication studies, Caribbean studies, entrepreneurship, environmental studies, management of business, physical education and sports, sociology and tourism. The average pass for all CAPE examinations was 84 per cent.
"We are very proud of our achievement," Mrs Davis declared. "Our vision is for our students to become critical thinkers and problem-solvers, who will be able to make meaningful contributions to Jamaica and beyond in this ever-changing world," she concluded.
CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Honourable Ruel Reid