Minister Terrelonge addressed students at the school’s annual Reading Fair in observation of National Reading Week today (Wednesday).
The State Minister told students that they should not allow discouragement to determine their fortunes.
He told the students: “If anybody tells you that you cannot become a lawyer, a doctor or an engineer, tell them mash down that lie. If they say you are ugly and your hair is natty, tell them mash down that lie; if they say you won’t make it because you come from the inner city, tell them mash down that lie; if they say you cannot make it because you are a female, tell them mash down that lie”.
Minister Terrelonge noted that Jamaica had made major strides toward gender equality but that there was still inequality in boardrooms across the public and private sectors, despite research showing increasing recognition of female entrepreneurs as the new engines for inclusive and sustainable industrial growth in developing countries.
“We value the work that our women do and the roles they are playing in society; they are our doctors, engineers, caregivers and entrepreneurs. We want to see every girl at St. George’s fulfil their dreams and aspirations,” he said.
He encouraged the girls to place focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) when they get to high school level as the demand for professionals in those areas continues to grow, pointing out that globally, girls start to self-select out of STEM courses in early secondary school.
He said that societal attitudes sometimes hinder girls’ participation, with science and technology often considered male domains.
Pointing to the important contribution women make towards nation building, he added: “We cannot build a sustainable future without bringing more women into positions of leadership and responsibility. We can only do that through education and discipline. So my challenge to you is to ensure that you pick up a book and read…read…read. If you are facing challenges, seek help; ask a teacher, ask your parents.
And to the parents here I urge you to read to your children and with your children; make reading a habit, a part of the lifestyle in your homes. It is one decision you will make that you will never regret.”
Minister Terrelonge then read with the students. National Reading Week is being observed from April 23-27, 2018.