National News

August Tears and Misery in Jamaica

by Dr J Lennon

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Between June 16-20, 2019 the 8th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference will take place in Kingston, Jamaica.

The title “Building Pathways for Sustainable Development” is a misnomer. Here are examples of the parliamentarians’ “sustainable development” in relation to education:

See also: Jamaica Diaspora Conference Theme in line with Jamaica’s Vision 2030 Goals


The parliamentarians see the ‘diaspora’ and ‘returnees’ as cash cows: tourists, remittances and charity. We are Jamaicans and the parliamentarians depend on our money.

We should therefore make our voices heard – as you can see, some policies must be challenged – and we should invest by redirecting charitable donations to the creation of a charitable renewable energy industry that is transparent, pays a living wage and all profits are used for education and the youth.

This would be sustainable development:

  • Every year Jamaicans abroad donate well over $40 million in cash alone to education. Education would not miss this money if schools were solar powered.
  • Annually, over $2.2 billion is sent home in remittances. If only 1% of that was donated we would have over $22 million to invest.

That would be over $60 million per annum. Every year we could build a state of the art waste-to-energy/recycling plant in a parish and sports/community centres.

This would have an immediate impact:

  • Create jobs;
  • Cleaner roads, gullies and environment;
  • Reduce dumping, pests and burning;
  • Reduce youth crime;
  • Reduce the fuel import bill….

This could be done without any extra fundraising etc. but first we must demand change.

Case for state investment in solar power

Every year, tens of millions of USD goes to the energy company to power schools. However, solar powered schools have payback periods under 4 years so there are no economic reasons for them on the grid.

Bills have made schools charity cases so they must charge fees. Some parents cannot afford fees so their children are destined to a life of poverty.

August Tears and Misery in Jamaica
(file photo) Courtesy JIS

Schools fees are paid around August and mothers cry openly. Money isn’t available to pay exam fees. 6th form is too expensive so children cry. It is heartbreaking and unnecessary. So a case for state investment in solar power must be presented. It is justified and economically viable.

The government must pay to power schools so do it prudently, taxpayers money should be used to service a fixed term debt and not pay rising electricity bills forever. It is like home ownership: replace rent with mortgage repayments. Schools would immediately have more money and choice would not be based on affordability.

$70 million was found for an unsanctioned national identity card system so the capital can easily be found.

The parliamentarian pathway

Their “pathway” is for private sector investment in solar powered schools to benefit the rich to the detriment of children, and investment in call centres and tourism.

Creating tens of thousands of minimum wage jobs is not sustainable development. Education is the key to sustainable development.

One policy is to prepare 300k workers for call centre jobs

The PM: “We are getting our young people work-ready at an accelerated pace. Very soon, we will have a supply of work-ready persons to be employed in your operations”.

Do you think their children will be answering phones? The poor are being educated to a level for McJobs.


Education is one reason why many of us and our parents had to leave Jamaica. Those who remain have not demanded free and better education because they are clueless thanks to complicit journalism.

And those who you expect to help are also involved. So we need help from our Jamaican brothers and sisters living overseas.

South Florida Caribbean News

The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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