A good part­ner­ship

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

LAST WEEK, the Par­ent-Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Ja­maica Col­lege staged a fundrais­ing event head­lined by the recog­ni­tion of three main play­ers in the school’s con­tin­u­ing ef­forts at im­prove­ment: Danny Wil­liams, Ruel Reid and Ian Forbes.

Over the last 10 years, largely through the in­spi­ra­tional lead­er­ship of Danny Wil­liams, there has been con­sid­er­able im­prove­ment in the phys­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and ed­u­ca­tional cli­mate at Ja­maica Col­lege.

Danny’s prin­ci­ple of in­clu­sion and calm but res­o­lute in­sis­tence on ac­count­abil­ity have been the foun­da­tion el­e­ments of a sturdy part­ner­ship draw­ing to­gether alumni, par­ents, staff and friends of the col­lege.

Of course, it has helped that, un­like many other schools, sev­eral of JC’s old boys from the glory days of Hugo Cham­bers are now the wealthy busi­ness lead­ers who could af­ford to give back to their school as the Hen­drick­sons, Gores and Mat­alons have done.

But the im­por­tance of the part­ner­ship goes deeper than the money con­tri­bu­tions. It lies in the spirit of shared re­spon­si­bil­ity and the sat­is­fac­tion of be­ing part of a no­ble en­deav­our. That was the vibe which was ev­i­dent and shared at last week’s func­tion.

And this is the ethos which, be­ing du­pli­ca­ble, could has­ten the trans­for­ma­tion of our schools and, by ex­ten­sion, ought to be the model for Ja­maica’s po­lit­i­cal econ­omy.

The el­e­ments are as sim­ple as they are rare. A strong leader, whether chair­man or prin­ci­pal and prefer­ably both – who sets an ap­pro­pri­ate tone for a school, or by ex­ten­sion, min­istry or agency, and en­cour­ages, en­joins and mea­sures per­for­mance tar­gets.

What a con­trast to the crab­bit, ego­tis­ti­cal, tribal ap­proach to man­age­ment and gov­er­nance ev­i­dent even in the run-up to to­day’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

SIN­CERE PARTNERSHIPS

It is only through sin­cere, not self-in­ter­ested or ‘mouth-wa­ter,’ partnerships that sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and whole­some so­cial re­la­tions can be forged in Ja­maica.

Ja­maica Col­lege’s progress has a deeper sig­nif­i­cance: that of now of­fer­ing the range and qual­ity of high-school ed­u­ca­tion pre­vi­ously re­served for the elite of colour and class, to more 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!

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