Speech by the Hon. Luther Buchanan, MP Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
Opening of New Classrooms and Refurbished Building Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning
January 8, 2016
Barracks Road, Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland
I am very pleased to join my colleague Minister and Parliamentarian Rev. Ronald Thwaites this morning in this opening ceremony and to wish for you a happy new year and a very prosperous and productive 2016.
For many, a new year means new beginnings and so it very significant that in this the first month of the new year we are participating in this opening which, I am sure, will be the start of many new opportunities for you all. Indeed there could be no better time than today, to follow your resolve and to grasp the new opportunities provided in this new year!
Today’s ceremony marks yet another significant step in this Government’s continued commitment to facilitate the social mobility of our people and in particular the residents here in Sav-la-Mar and the wider environs. As the parliamentary representative for a constituency in this parish I am only too aware of the role that education plays in the improvement of one’s life and its impact on the social mobility of the residents.
Indeed, the Government, led by our Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, has always been and remains committed to improving people’s lives, even as we work together to grow the economy of our country.
And so, you will recall that just a few months ago, in May 2015, Minister Thwaites, Minister Kellier and I participated in similar functions, where we opened libraries at Savanna-la-Mar Infant and St. John’s Infant in Darliston. This speaks to the high level of importance that this Government places on education.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is our firm belief that if we are to achieve sustainable development people must be at the centre of any developmental project that we undertake. It is for that reason, therefore, that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, through the Sugar Transformation Unit, has been investing billions of dollars in the development of sugar-dependent communities across the island.
Thanks to the European Union, since 2009, under this Sugar Area Development Programme, we have spent over J$6 billion on transformation programmes. These include the Housing Programme; financing for the Cane Expansion Fund; cane road rehabilitation projects; and social infrastructure projects, including, clinics, sporting facilities, water supply systems, community centres, libraries and educational facilities like the one we are opening today.
We are, therefore, very pleased that we have been able to partner with the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning, through the Sugar Transformation Unit of the Ministry, to construct these three new classrooms, as well as to upgrade and expand the computer skills training facility here in Savanna-la-Mar at an approximate cost of $4 million.
I encourage you all to make good use of this opportunity to learn new skills and to upgrade your education so that you can remain competitive in the workplace. The reality is that gone are the days when you could specialise in just one area and are guaranteed a job for life.
We are now living in a technologically advanced world, where companies are now seeking persons who are multi-skilled and so we have to continually upgrade ourselves.
Here in Westmoreland 34 projects valued at some $450 million have been funded by the Sugar Transformation Programme. These projects include: health centres, community centres, schools, an agro-park, road rehabilitation, rural electrification and water supply system.
Going forward, the STU will be undertaking several projects valued at approximately $200 million to include:
Indeed, ladies and gentlemen, agriculture has always been and continues to be a very critical contributor to the Jamaica’s economy. For this reason, the Ministry of Agriculture is absolutely committed to doing everything in our power and in the context of the fiscal possibilities to ensure the survival, growth and sustainability of the sector in this and other parishes.
In closing, let me again express our gratitude to the European Union, and the team in Jamaica, so ably led over the past few years by Ambassador Amadei, for their commitment to the people of Jamaica and the development of our communities. And to the residents of Savanna-la-Mar and environs, I urge you to grasp the opportunities available to you to upgrade your education and to achieve your dreams. Take care of the facilities and use them well!