Monday, 4 January 2016

LOOKING AHEAD: Health care and education rank high on Simpson-Miller’s 2016 priority list

SHARP FOCUS: The areas of health care and education are of supreme importance to PM Portia Simpson Miller as they are for the overwhelming majority of us Jamaicans. According to the prime minister, these areas are set for more top-priority attention by her administration as the nation embarks on a brand-new year. “Our investments in education will continue with our 3000 new classroom spaces coming on stream. We will consolidate our achievements in literacy and in numeracy at the primary level,” the prime minister noted in her New Year’s message. “At the secondary level, we will see more opportunities for our children to gain qualifications and skills in the technical vocational areas.”

The prime minister also stressed the vital contribution that access to good health care plays in creating a productive and successful nation. “This year the Ministry of Health will step up the implementation of a 10-year strategic plan for upgrading health care services in Jamaica,” she said. “We are working with all stakeholders to overcome the challenges that have beset the nation’s health sector.” As Simpson-Miller made clear, the government recently signed an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank to provide an additional six billion dollars in cash grants to benefit persons on the PATH programme.

POSITIVE SPIN: What advice does Governor General Sir Patrick Allen have for Jamaicans as we step boldly into 2016? Rise up and face your challenges with renewed determination. “We will have the opportunity to demonstrate that we are able to rise to any occasion and surmount challenges with a positive attitude,” Sir Patrick says. “You may be surprised and satisfied as you ‘step up’ from ‘token giving’ to touch lives and see how many broken persons you have mended. In these ways we are using what is right in Jamaica to fix what is wrong with us. A new year brings new opportunities for excellence.”

WORK IN PROGRESS: Who says the National Democratic Movement (NDM) has gone to sleep? According to NDM Chairman Michael Williams, with Election Watch now a major talking point in the national conversation, the party has been paying extra-close attention to all the goings-on. “The question that will be on many people’s minds is, Why hasn’t the NDM gone public, or better yet, started campaigning? The answer is we only make commitments after we are positive that the NDM’s plans are sound and workable in Jamaica,” explains Williams. “We are developing our platform with workable solutions and we encourage all Jamaicans to come into the light by joining us in the rebirth for a better Jamaica.”

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