Today is July 4. What does that mean to you?
I was issued with a bet that not many people in the audience would remember anything but the U.S. Independence Day. In the spirit of independence I was hoping that at least a few persons would pause to recall that it is the 119th anniversary of the birth of a founding father of the nation – Norman Washington Manley at Roxborough in Manchester.
What does that have to do with PATH you might ask. After all the program is only 10 years old, and ‘daddy Manley’ himself died as far back as 1969.
Well, the very reason for social safety net programs is about unequal development. It is about often entrenched habits that lead to injudicious deployment of resources – whether personal, family or at the level of the state.
At the surface – it seems to be about economics, but it is more profoundly about philosophy – a way of thinking, a way of being.
Trade imbalance is often about looking for satisfaction and solutions outside of one’s capabilities in the same way that two families with limited means can live very different lives because their choices are at variance with each other based on self perception and discipline.
No doubt a pattern of obsession with foreign goods and services helps to drive financial problems, while more often than not we have the solutions inside of us. It was your own Bob Marley that famously said:
“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're living?”
This becomes even more poignant when you family has very little means, because then if the answer is ‘no’, it becomes even more of a conundrum to find a satisfying solution.
In fact there are no easy answers, but they are very much present. Our beneficiaries under the PATH program continuously prove that a fulfilling successful life does not depend upon external solution as much as on internal resolve.
We all agree that the funds provided under PATH are inadequate to deliver substantial change in a socially difficult situation. That is why we see it as a partnership of equals that can eventually beat a PATH from subsistent survival to prosperity.
Since the GOJ (with World Bank funding) began the implementation of a reformed social safety net system for the country just over a decade ago, YOU the beneficiaries have in turn demonstrated the power of resilient, self-sufficient mind-sets. That is the Spirit of PATH.
The Spirit of PATH is to make a ‘muckle’ from a ‘mickle’ and merge many ‘muckles’ into the magic of excellence. The kind of tremendous enterprise we honor today as we gather to salute the Top Achievers at both the primary and secondary levels (GSAT and CSEC respectively).
Partnership is another spark which fuels the fire and Spirit of PATH. As we know in the traditional home grown Jamaican folk wisdom – ‘One hand can’t clap’. In this regard I am also quite pleased that we have been able to partner with positive purveyors of not health and education. These are the pillars not just of PATH but of sustainable personal development. The Top School and Top Health Centre therefore deserve our respect and unswerving support. They literally define the interface between funders and clients and so in a real way help to shape the quality of client experience. In social development this must be about respect, so we salute you.
The drivers of the program are the dedicated public servants at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) and so the World Bank must once again salute this ‘can do’ team that has not wavered in re-defining Jamaica’s social safety net and closely monitoring its delivery for quality and effectiveness.
After a decade we now have a more cohesive and equitable system to empower Jamaican families who can least afford to fend off the vagaries of life - including persons with disabilities.
The World Bank is indeed very proud to have been associated with PATH because in spite of a few lagging challenges, the management team has flagged the areas of concern and proceeded to solve them one at a time in an open and collaborative manner and with due diligence. We are therefore not worried about the program, challenges notwithstanding.
As we do every time we have the opportunity to address gatherings such as these, the World Bank renews its commitment as a partner in Jamaica’s development through technical support and counsel to ensure that Jamaica’s most vulnerable citizens remains on the PATH to excellence.
Today is about honouring positive behaviour, about celebrating true Jamaican core values, particularly on this the birthday of a founding father of your nation. Let us recall N.W. Manley’s famous challenge to a post independence Jamaica:
‘…the mission of my generation was to win self-government for Jamaica... I am proud to stand here today and say to you who fought that fight with me…Mission accomplished for my generation… and what is the mission of this generation?… It is…reconstructing the social and economic society and life of Jamaica.”
We know that as a people you are proud and resilient, and all you need is a little ‘help up’ to find your feet and to shine. As your flag signifies… ‘the sun shineth, the land is green and the people are strong and creative.’
Congratulations to all to all awardees today – keep shining, growing and bursting with creative energy. With partners like our winners today and those in the extended PATH family, I am sure that the national mission will also be accomplished for this generation as well.