With The Queen’s School still Jamaica’s only all-female institution to host an annual development meet, the organisers are hoping this year’s 15th staging of the Queen’s-Grace Jackson meet will be their biggest, most memorable and most spectacular to date.The event, slated to begin at 8:30 a.m. next Saturday inside the National Stadium, was launched at the Queen’s School board room on Central Avenue, St Andrew, yesterday.The event, a qualifier for the ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships in March, is expected to attract as many as 2,400 athletes. It will cost $500 for adults to enter while children with school identification and under 12 will pay $200.Honorees at this year’s meet will be recent graduate Danielle Williams, who won the 100m hurdles gold at last year’s IAAF World Championships and Wayne Long and Winston Harvey for their long-term contributions as track and field officials.five scholarshipsMeet patron, Olympian and past student Grace Jackson, highlighted the fact that five scholarships worth $15,000 each will be given to qualified Queen’s student athletes.”I would like everybody to come out to the stadium and watch the show. We are going to have excellent performances,” Jackson said.Meanwhile, telecommunications provider Digicel are on board for the first time, courtesy of their Digicel Grand Prix series, which sponsors a number of development meets.Main sponsor, Lucozade, has pumped in $650,000 in cash, products and special prizes for athletes and supporters.Meet manager Olive McNaughton stressed that the meet is about the development of athletes.”This meet is not just for the stars. This meet is for development, I think the Queen’s-Grace Jackson Meet has done its part in terms of development in Jamaica,” McNaughton said.Competitors will come from some of the major track and field clubs including MVP/UTech, Racers Track Club and G.C. Foster, as well as from high schools across Jamaica. Teams from Cayman Islands, The Bahamas and St Lucia are expected to compete for the first time.The events down to be contested include 200m for all classes, 400m hurdles, the 400m for clubs and institutions, field events including triple jump and discus while the organisers are also hoping to have the shot put and a special 60m event.The 4x400m relays are scheduled to bring the curtains down at 6 p.m.
The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, went out of her way last Saturday to present to 750 graduates of the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) a handsome purse, US$16,780, for their achievements in vocational and technical training. As the spiritual says, He didn’t have to do it, but He did—so we say about the President. She did not even have to be there but she was, we think mainly to demonstrate how seriously she values vocational and technical education.The President must cringe (become embarrassed, recoil) every time she learns that companies, locally and foreign-owned, must bring in expatriate engineers and technicians to undertake technical assignments. That is why she did not rest until she got the Chinese to agree to rehabilitate, at the cost of US$10 million, the MVTC. Last Saturday’s marked the first graduation since the rehabilitation of the Center was completed.So she felt she had to show up and do something tangible to demonstrate her appreciation not only to the Chinese, but to the Liberian students who took seriously the opportunities afforded them to learn trade skills that will elevate them from idleness to positive engagement in vocational and technical fields, to make them highly marketable.We pray that more of our young people will be recruited to enter MVTC, study hard, learn and attain the vocational and technical skills that will land them into well paying jobs or empower them to be self-employed. Vocationally and technically speaking, we believe there are two things more on the President’s mind. The first is the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), which she has committed herself to turning into a “center of excellence.” The second is the thousands of young people on the streets of Monrovia and other urban centers around the country minimally engaged—loading taxies, selling water, candies or towels or doing nothing at all but pick-pocketing. Ellen must go to sleep every night wondering how she can change that. MVTC and BWI are part of the answer. But with rampant illiteracy afflicting many of these very people and many more in the country, how can most of them be made ready to benefit from MVTC training of any kind? Can there be created an agricultural enterprise to which they can be assigned to learn on the job and become gainfully employed and earn decent wages?This has been done in many other countries and it can be done in Liberia. We suggest the President appoints a roundtable to discuss this issue. We are sure something tangible can be done in the near future to put some smiles on the faces of our tens of thousands of idle young people. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)