DR RENEE Rattray, director of education programmes at the JN Foundation, says narrow perceptions of success have been stifling the country’s economic growth.
Charging graduates at the Brimmer Vale High School to embrace their “non-traditional” label and vocational skills set, Rattray stated that the country needs more skilled professionals to stimulate production, pointing to the country’s low levels of manufacturing and exports. The goods-producing sector in 2014 represented about 0.0076 per cent of total real value added, according to data from the Economic and Social Survey published by the Planning Institute of Jamaica.
“Your skills are not something to be frowned upon. You are great; you are smart; you are the future,” she told graduates at the St Mary-based institution recently.
“In years to come, the future of our country will not be reliant on more lawyers and doctors. Of course, we will need them; however, it’s a more diverse range of creative and innovative skills that are now needed to grow our economy,” she added.
“Many traditional professions are focused on serving an established system. You, on the other hand, are poised to become the engineers, craftsmen, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and agriculturists, film and music producers and techies who will create solutions and opportunities for yourself and others.”
She urged the graduates to strive for greatness and not to allow themselves to be boxed into other people’s perceptions of success.
“For far too long, our perceptions of success have been too narrow, too colonial. You can take your passions, whatever they are, and take them to another level. There is no need to join a long line of persons waiting to get traditional jobs,” she charged.
Rattray encouraged parents and teachers to hold students to high expectations and to nurture their development in order to support their success.
Principal Evorine Henry-Tracey, acknowledging the work of Rattray in the JN Foundation’s iLead programme and other organisations and individuals, disclosed that the school has improved in discipline and performance over the past three years.
She outlined that this year a higher percentage of students sat external examinations at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC); City and Guilds and NCTVET levels, with 141 students of 166 doing the exams.
Performance in the 2014 CSEC exams also improved, Henry-Tracey disclosed, with passes in home economics, food and nutrition and physical education, ranging from 81 per cent to 97 per cent; and passes in agricultural science, office administration, information technology, principles of accounts, principles of business and technical drawing, ranging from 55 per cent to 75 per cent.
“Eleven students passed both mathematics and English in their subject combinations. We had two students passing 10 subjects,” she said.