The bright­est minds are not in St Thomas – Cus­tos

Jamaica Gleaner - - RURAL GROWTH, INVESTMENT, JOBS - Jodi-Ann Gilpin Gleaner Writer

NOT­ING THAT there is a con­stant mi­gra­tion of bril­liant minds out of the parish of St Thomas, stake­hold­ers said this is a ma­jor fac­tor which has sti­fled growth and de­vel­op­ment in the parish.

Mar­cia Ben­nett, cus­tos of the parish, who ad­dressed jour­nal­ists at a Gleaner Growth Fo­rum, held re­cently at the Whispering Bam­boo Cove Ho­tel, said there are only few young peo­ple who have opted to stay in the parish — an is­sue she be­lieves has re­sulted in the un­der­de­vel­op­ment of the area.

“Our bright­est minds are not in St Thomas, no­body stays,” she de­clared.

“I was at a func­tion and the ques­tion came up about the young peo­ple who want to stay in Ja­maica, and 100 per cent said they would leave the coun­try. That’s not healthy, that’s not good for any de­vel­op­ing coun­try,” she said.

“I have a deep pas­sion for this parish and I be­lieve we can go some­where, but, some­how, we are not mov­ing,” she lamented.

Sim­i­larly, Al­meta John­son, branch man­ager of the St Thomas Credit Union, who spoke as a res­i­dent of the parish, noted that there has been lit­tle or no de­vel­op­ment in the parish due to the lack of ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties there.

“I’ve had a lot of ob­ser­va­tions. I have worked in sev­eral parishes and com­ing to St Thomas, I’ve al­ways heard per­sons talk­ing about is­sues re­gard­ing the growth and de­vel­op­ment, and I’ve seen it for my­self. I do be­lieve that one of the chal­lenges is as it re­lates to ed­u­ca­tion,” John­son said.

“I am con­cerned, be­cause when I started work­ing, I saw where per­sons were ap­ply­ing for jobs hand-writ­ten, with a torn book leaf. I’ve seen where I go to the bank to do a trans­ac­tion, for ex­am­ple, and you have to as­sign of­fi­cers who will as­sist per­sons in us­ing the ATM (au­to­mated teller ma­chine) ... . I do be­lieve that in or­der for our parish to grow, per­sons have to be ed­u­cated, es­pe­cially as it re­lates to the tech­no­log­i­cal era that we are liv­ing in,” she said.

Sec­re­tary man­ager for the St Thomas Parish Coun­cil, Er­rol Greene, how­ever, be­lieves that the parish does not have an is­sue with bril­liant minds but more with op­por­tu­ni­ties that will cause the youth to re­main.

“We have in St Thomas, I be­lieve, a very ed­u­cated work­force. Cer­tainly in the St Thomas Parish Coun­cil where I lead, the ma­jor­ity of my staff have a first de­gree. We have some of the bright­est minds com­ing out of St Thomas, (but) how can we at­tract them? How can we keep them here?”

“Ed­u­ca­tion is a chal­lenge. We have some schools in St Thomas where the pop­u­la­tion of the school is un­der 20 and we know that is not sus­tain­able. We need to find a way to see how we can ei­ther at­tract them back or how we can use the in­fra­struc­ture bet­ter,” Greene said.

PHO­TOS BY RU­DOLPH BROWN/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Mo­rant Bay, St Thomas.

GREENE

JOHN­SON

BEN­NETT

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