All schools cost money in Jamaica. The Government does not provide free school to anyone. This is where the problem begins and ends here in Jamaica.
Education, Education, Education. All of us in the first World know how important it is to have some form of education. It doesn’t have to be a Masters degree, it could be a plumbing certificate, a carpenter or a welder. Jamaicans are proud people and when they can’t feed their families because they don’t have the necessary skills to be employed they become demoralized, depressed and desperate. Desperate people do desperate things.
Often the many single mothers (often school-age) have to choose between feeding all the children at home or sending one to school that week. The choice becomes elementary. The child stays home until money can be found for both. This on and off process of going to school can cause children to take a non-committal approach regarding the importance of classes, not to mention the stigma of not being able to afford to attend on a regular basis.
Idle hands are the Devils tools. Young men hanging around and not going to school fall prey to organized gangs that need drug runners, enforcers and dealers to ply their trade. Sadly, young women are not left out of this web. They have their place as hustlers and prostitutes ...anything to put food on the table and send children to school. This is so prevalent in Jamaica that it is considered normal in a country that has few options outside of hard labour … when you can get it.
Minimum wages in Jamaica is 1000 Jamaican Dollars a day (10 hrs). That’s less than 10 US dollars per day. Lunch and transportation has to come out of that.
If we can keep a child in school long enough so that they can think and make life decisions with a more mature and counselled mind, they most certainly would choose a different path. They would see life as full of opportunity as opposed viewing it as war between them and “those who have”. Jamaican children love to learn and love to go to school. This is a very social nation of people who love to interact and their tribal roots are evident as “word of mouth” is still the strongest form of communication in Jamaica.
Not only is school important for the recorded data of a child's scholastic performance, it is also where life is learned at the societal level. It is here where children learn to “give and take”; where minor squabbles & jealousies occur and are forgotten in an hour & lifetime friendships are made. It is school and in its environment of competent teachers that can guide and settle small disagreements and set the course for reconciliation. When a young lifetime is shared with classmates there is a sense of belonging to a consciousness of trust and love. These big picture environments are vital to the lens with which a child views life and grows to be a Man (Father) and Woman (Mother). Good Mothers and Fathers raise good Children and can bring forth the change needed at the roots of Jamaican Society.
The per capita murder rate in Jamaica is one of the highest in the world. A lot of it stems from gangs and revenge. Revenge becomes deadly because these events are seen as the only way to solve problems. Children who drop out of school in lower grades have little training in “conflict resolution”. They tend to settle their arguments and their hurt feelings with violence, sometimes deadly. While hanging out on the street, they begin to admire the gangsters. The murder of a loved one vibrates sadness, shock, fear and the plan for revenge … and so it continues.
Seeing bus loads of children on a Jamaican country road all dressed up crisp and clean in their uniforms is a warm sight that can bring tears to your eyes. Little ones holding hands with older siblings, talking a mile a minute and clutching precious books that point to a world outside of the Caribbean. Jamaican children are fascinated and curious by nature making them great students. Passionately competitive and encouraged by good Teachers, many brilliant minds have emerged from Jamaica to lead the world in Sports and Commerce.
It costs approximately $510.00 (US) to send a Grade School child to classes for a year. That includes school fees, lunch, uniform and books. If this burden could be lifted from these single Mothers their lives would change overnight. Parents know the sick feeling of personal failure, when they can’t provide for a child they love with all their heart. This fear and shame can be alleviated with the Scholarship Project.
We cannot nor do we want to change Jamaica. However, we certainly can improve the lives of people and families that come in contact with us. The Ital Place of Reasoning is committed to improvement wherever possible. You can Help.