On Fidel

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY - Ron­ald Th­waites is mem­ber of par­lia­ment for Cen­tral Kingston and op­po­si­tion spokesman on ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing. Email feed­back to columns@glean­erjm.com.

and more of those who were pre­vi­ously ex­cluded.

The so­cial­ist NW and Michael Man­ley are clap­ping in heaven. This is what they strug­gled for. For, not least of JC’s ac­co­lades is that of be­ing the only ex­ist­ing school which can boast a na­tional hero among its alumni.

Im­prove­ment of in­fra­struc­ture in our schools is an im­por­tant ob­jec­tive, but the on­go­ing chal­lenge for the en­tire ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem is the trans­for­ma­tion of char­ac­ter.

Since schools by de­fault have be­come the pre­mier in­sti­tu­tions of char­ac­ter for­ma­tion, given the weak­ness of fam­i­lies, churches and com­mu­ni­ties, it is up to good part­ners like those at JC to spend more time and re­sources go­ing for­ward on form­ing ‘men for oth­ers’, strong in civic and re­li­gious con­vic­tion and con­vinced of the need to form faith­ful and com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ships.

Far re­moved from the ex­clu­sion­ary elitism of the past, Ja­maica Col­lege can now set the ex­am­ple of a new elitism of virtue – to match scholas­tic and vo­ca­tional com­pe­ten­cies and prow­ess in sport.

And what a pow­er­ful model that would be for em­u­la­tion. What a me­mo­rial trib­ute to the slain Ni­cholas Forbes and what a gift to a na­tion strug­gling with the mor­tal ill­ness of de­clin­ing so­cial cap­i­tal!

NO JA­MAICAN leader, not even Gar­vey, has so in­car­nated the yearn­ing and strug­gle for free­dom and equal­ity among the peo­ple of South Amer­ica and the Car­ib­bean as Fidel Castro. Those of con­trar­ian views, like this writer, would prob­a­bly not have sur­vived un­der his regime. But his com­mit­ment to ef­fec­tive

and health care in Cuba, as well as his sup­port for anti-im­pe­ri­al­ism and against mi­nor­ity rule in­ter­na­tion­ally, were mea­sures of his great­ness.

Ja­maicans con­tinue to ben­e­fit sub­stan­tially from Cuban sol­i­dar­ity and most of our peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate this and will mourn his death. Re­call the un­prece­dented roar of wel­come through­out Kingston when Fidel came unan­nounced to Michael’s funeral. It is to our na­tional credit that while oth­ers shied away, Ja­maica recog­nised Cuba diplo­mat­i­cally and has de­cried the un­just United States em­bargo ev­ery year at the United Na­tions as well as through lo­cal par­lia­men­tary res­o­lu­tion.

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