Release Date: 
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My brothers and sisters, on behalf of the Jamaica Teachers' Association I bring you peace! The Jamaica Teachers' Association is eternally grateful to the various pastors and congregations, across the island, who are accommodating us today. We give God thanks for the ways in which He has sustained us over these many years.

In participating in these special church services, our Association is seeking to get it right from the start and is signaling to you our Jamaican people, that in spite of the many challenges that we will face this year, with Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storms.

We are cognizant of the fact that "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain". The task of educating our nation's children and adults rests with our teachers. However, I wish to remind us all that education is everybody's business. Successfully educating our people can only be achieved through oneness of purpose, a posture of sustained collaboration and a high level of patriotism.

I urge you to recognize and accept that for us to advance as a nation it can no longer be a case of you in your small corner and I in mine; it can no longer be a case that I succeed at your expense; it can no longer be a case of me first and you last. The JTA fully believes in the adage "No man is an island, no man stands alone."

The JTA applauds the efforts of the Ministry of Education as it seeks to advance quality education in Jamaica. We applaud all our educators for the sustained efforts made during 2013. It was Nelson Mandela who said "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." The JTA is fully aligned to the 2030 Vision of Jamaica being a place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.

We are heartened that our education system produced students who distinguished themselves as quality citizens of the world. Our students made Jamaica the top performing country in the Caribbean based on the recent results in the CSEC examinations. Jamaica has the top performing CAPE student in the Caribbean; our students placed first in 15 CAPE units; our students' performance placed Jamaica in the top 10 of all except 4 of the 46 units sat. The JTA applauds these students and their teachers for this commendable feat.

April 3, 2014, marks 50 years of the existence of the JTA and 50 years of quality service given to our country by teachers affiliated with the Jamaica Teachers' Association. As we enter a yearlong celebration I encourage my colleagues to show even greater commitment to the welfare of our nation's children. Let us ensure also that individually and collectively we give of our best in service to our fellow human being.

Indeed, the JTA has achieved much. Our country has achieved much and we believe there are even greater achievements on the horizon but we cannot do it without a national effort; and so we welcome partnerships with the Ministry of Education and by extension, the government of Jamaica. We welcome the support of our churches, civil society and corporate Jamaica as together, we offer continued sacrificial service to our children and Jamaica land we love. We invite all Jamaicans to tune in to Television Jamaica and CVM this evening as several issues in education will be addressed in a national broadcast to the nation.

As President, I wish to extend profound gratitude for the support given to teachers in the first four months of this academic year. We look forward to a continued productive and wholesome working relationship with all stakeholders. To our students, we encourage you with the old adage "Labour for learning before you grow old; for learning is better than silver and gold; silver and gold will vanish away; but a good education will never decay. Second, the heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept were toiling upward through the night." It is hard work being a student but put your shoulders to the wheel and get the job done.

As we embark on a new school term and a New Year, 2014, I encourage our teachers to place your hope in the Lord, Isaiah 40 verse 31 states, "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. May God help us to have a successful 2014 as we continue to unite and serve.


Dr. Mark Nicely

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