Dwight Nelson (left), security minister, presents a silver award to Carey Stewart of Tarrant High School at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Jamaica Awards, held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston on Wednesday. [Gladstone Taylor/Photographer]

Some 128 high school students were recognized for successfully completing various pursuits under the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Jamaica, at an awards ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston on Wednesday.

Minister of Education Andrew Holness lauded the students for their effort and said it was a good activity for personal development.

“We have been producing persons who clearly are academically competent but they are not functional at the level required in terms of the soft skills, the interpersonal skills. Some of the behaviours that we have seen displayed by persons who are academically competent are behaviours that do not necessarily lend themselves to the best interest of the society,” he said.

Holness said the ministry was in the process of designing ways to incorporate into the school curriculum, character-development programmes.

“Whilst we are driving for improved academic performance, we want that performance to be matched by better behaviour of our students,” he said.

It was on that note that he announced that civic studies will be returned to the curriculum, as it is critical to the development of the nation.

Security Minister Dwight Nelson said the awardees signalled that the future is encouraging.

He said persons tend to frequently bemoan the negative characteristics among Jamaican youths and, in so doing, totally ignore their real attributes.

Comprehensive Policy

Nelson added that Government was seeking to create a comprehensive policy that would incorporate a long-term policy that would contribute positively to youth development.

The programme, which caters to young people aged 14-25 years, requires persons to participate in activities aimed at fostering personal and social development.

Of the 128 youngsters honoured, 32 were given the silver award and 96 received bronze awards. For entry into the silver award category, youngsters should be 15 years or older and engaged in tasks for 12 months and more. Persons aged 14 years and older may gain the bronze award, which can be achieved between six months and a year.

To win an award, participants must complete activities in four sections for a specified minimum period of time. These include service, an adventurous journey, skills and physical recreation.

Oshane Sinclair, who got a bronze award, said the experience was hectic, but great, as it was one which would help him to act responsible and to be better at team work.

The awards programme, which was started in 1956 by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh; German educator Dr Kurt Hahn; and leader of the first team to successfully climb Mount Everest, Lord John Hunt; exists in more than 100 countries. It has been operating in Jamaica since 1961.

Originally Posted by The News Desk (15 April 2011)
The Jamaica Gleaner