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Members of Reparations Council announced … CXC staggers release of exam results… Times Square welcomes Bartlett

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In case you missed it, here are OBSERVER ONLINE’s top ten stories for today:

1. Grange announces members of National Council on Reparations

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, has announced the appointment of the National Council on Reparations for the period 29 July, 2019 to 28 July, 2022.

2. Hospital Hell

Junior doctors in the public health system have shared multiple horror stories of the conditions in which they work and which, they say, are putting the lives of patients at risk.

3. J’can’s bigamy trial in St Vincent adjourned to September

A Magistrate’s Court has adjourned to September 3, the trial of a 44-year-old Jamaican, on a charge of bigamy.

4. St James police seize firearm, arrest man

The St James police are reporting the seizure of a Bersa 9mm pistol with thirteen 9mm rounds of ammunition and the arrest of a man during a raid at Retirement district in the parish early this morning.

5. CXC staggers regional release of 2019 CAPE, CSEC results

The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has announced a new system for the upcoming release of May/June 2019 CAPE and CSEC examination results. Students in Jamaica will be able to access their CAPE results between 2:30 pm and 5:30 pm today (August 13) and the CSEC results will be released during the same time period on Thursday, August 15, the Education Ministry said in a release.

6. Police High Command offers condolences to family of former JCF member killed in Libya

The Police High Command is conveying condolences to the family of Clive Peck, a former member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and United Nations employee who died tragically in Libya this past weekend.

7. J’can gov’t committed to stronger partnership with Diaspora — NY Deputy Consul General

Jamaica’s Deputy Consul General to New York, Lisa Bryan-Smart, has reiterated the Government’s commitment to expanding and strengthening partnerships with Jamaicans in the Diaspora.

8. Times Square welcomes Jamaica’s tourism minister

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett was welcomed via billboard to Times Square, New York City on Sunday, August 11. The billboard, located on Broadway and 43rd Street, in the heart of Times Square featured the message for five minutes, exposing Jamaica to an international audience.

9. Regional sugar producers want tariff enforced on imported white sugar

The Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) is urging Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments to strengthen the regional market for Caribbean white sugar by enforcing the Common External Tariff (CET) on imported white sugar.

10. 29 US states and cities sue Trump over climate protections

A coalition of 22 US states and seven cities on Tuesday sued President Donald Trump’s administration to block it from easing restrictions on coal-burning power plants. 

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Better news, but concerns linger for education inspector

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THE chief inspector’s findings of the National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report for the period September 2015 to June 2019 have indicated improvements across all the performance indicators, but there are few areas that remain issues of concern.

The findings, shared last month, state that many of our teachers continue to demonstrate weaknesses in the enactment of student-centred pedagogies (teaching methods and practices); classrooms are generally not conducive to student-centred learning activities; there is inadequate integration across subject areas in lessons; and teachers’ lesson evaluation and reflections are generally missing or inadequate.

In responding to the issue of weakness in the enactment of student-centred teaching methods, NEI Chief Inspector Maureen Dwyer explained that the National Standards Curriculum is predicated on teachers teaching differently.

“They should take a constructivist approach to the curriculum and ensure that the learners at all times are at the centre of the learning experience. You should have more collaboration in classrooms, you should have a lot of research going on — trying to bring out the children’s critical thinking skills and so on,” Dwyer said. “So the classrooms should look different from the teacher-centred classrooms where the teacher is always at the front talking, to a more collaborative sort of environment where children become involved in their own learning.”

But, according to Dwyer, the inspections revealed that there are impediments to implementation of that sort of pedagogy.

“What am I talking about? You have some teachers who in real terms don’t know how to enact this sort of collaboration, so they mistake group work for collaboration. But there are instances where the classrooms are not conducive. Too many students are in one classroom. It’s more difficult to put them.in groups, it’s more difficult for students to move around the classroom to do other activities, so there are some impediments to getting the learner-centred pedagogy going in the Jamaican classroom,” she explained, while explicitly stating that the revelations are not about embarrassing schools, rather, stating what needs to change and providing the necessary support for the change to occur.

In relation to inadequate integration between subject areas in lessons, Dwyer said it’s simply a matter of getting children to see the areas of commonality across subjects, however, at times this is missing.

“At the primary level for example, what is strongly recommended is that teachers integrate the subject areas at grades one to three. We expect that in teaching, for example, a maths lesson teachers would be using things like music, they would be using things like science, they would be using areas out of English language. In other words, it is a joined-up kind of approach to teaching and learning. So, you’re not going so much into distinct subject areas but looking for areas of commonality across the subject areas and teaching the children to appreciate and to express themselves in those ways,” she said.

She added, “I can say for myself as a teacher of geography, when I used to do certain topics in geo like scales, measurements, contours and map readings — that is strongly mathematical. It’s good when you can point out to the children that there is synergy between and among the subject areas, so it is strongly recommended that at grades one to three an integrated approach is used. In fact that’s what the curriculum says. We look out for that too and there are times we don’t see that to the extent we would want to see.”

Regarding the concern about lesson evaluations and reflections missing or being inadequate, Dwyer explained that while a lesson can be taught without a plan, having one in place allows you to understand the issues within the classroom and plan better to overcome them.

“The excellent teacher who knows his or her students will want to tailor a plan around the needs of the learners, regardless of the topic,” Dwyer said. “You want to see in a lesson plan and in the examination of a lesson that the teacher understood that not all the students are going to be learning at the same pace and learning in the same way. The reflective teacher is a teacher who would include, as much as possible, activities that will engage the different types of learners in the classroom. But we’re not seeing that, and each lesson plan has to be evaluated.

“After you teach you must look back to say what went well and what should have been better. We are not getting those kind of reflection and that’s the kinds of reflections that helps to build quality in teaching and quality around the school — because it’s really about the children. You really want to see a body of work that says ‘ok, I taught this topic, but I believe I could have done better by doing so and so. When I did so and so they really got it, so I need to go back to include so and so’. Or, this came up in my lesson and I believe I am going to have to re-teach or teach something more about that’. This kind of reflecting on your work shows that you are immersed in it and that you have the interest of the learners at heart. We’re seeing more of it but we’re not seeing enough,” she charged.

For Dwyer, while some teachers or schools may have these in place, she wants to see it enforced right across the length and breadth of our schools.

“Remember when you operate a school inspection framework what you’re doing is pushing the areas of importance to your system — things that will make your schools better. The fact that few people might be doing it, or some might be doing it, that’s not good enough. We want to know we’re pushing the system towards that space where most people are doing it,” she said.

Further, she said the findings serve as a point of reflection for the education ministry and everyone who wants to see improvements in the education system.

“Principals were very happy to get their school reports and very happy that education officers were focusing with them around the areas for development. Essentially, we have a good bunch, we just have to continue to support them,” she said.

Acknowledging that change will not happen overnight, Dwyer also said she is hopeful we are moving in the right direction and offered that once individuals understand the benefits to be gained, greater efforts to change will come.

“When they see the results and when they understand the benefits to be gained, I know that we will begin to see the change that we want,” she said.

 

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One dead from Fesco fire; investigation continues

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One dead from Fesco fire; investigation continues

Sunday, February 23, 2020

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — One man has died as a result of the fire which damaged Heaven’s Fesco service station here on Friday, his relatives have said.

The man was identified by relatives yesterday as Daniel Farquharson, a businessman of this south-central Jamaica town.

Today would have been his 60th birthday, his son Tyrone told the Jamaica Observer from his base in New York, United States.

“Daddy is someone who doesn’t celebrate but he would recognise his birthday. He was a laid-back, cheerful person who worked hard. He operated Danny’s Garage; he is also a pig farmer.

“We are distraught. I am in New York, my other siblings who are in Jamaica and Japan are also distraught because we are a close-knit family. I was told he suffered burns to 80-90 per cent of the body.

“When he was taken to hospital last night [Friday], I spoke to him and reminded him how much I love him, and he said ‘me love you too’,” Tyrone said, holding back tears. “Daddy was everything. What a tragedy, my God.”

Daniel Farquharson was due to visit his son in New York in May.

“I was so excited to know that he was coming up, because I hadn’t seen him since 2014,” Tyrone said.

Four other persons remain in hospital, as the Jamaica Fire Brigade intensifies its investigation into the blaze which occurred at the intersection of Perth, Manchester and Caledonia roads, which also resulted in extensive damage to a section of the service station and 12 vehicles which were parked on the property.

Deputy superintendent at the Jamaica Fire Brigade Rohan Powell told the Jamaica Observer that an investigative team was to examine the scene yesterday afternoon.

“The remainder of the investigative team from Kingston which are on their way to finalise the investigative process, after…a preliminary report will be done to make the findings known and then we will follow up with a final report on the incident,” he disclosed.

“Twelve motor vehicles were damaged [and] five civilians injured; two persons received critical burns up to second-degree level and three individuals received minor burns. A 17-year-old child involved in the situation received minor burns to her face,” he went on.

Up to mid-afternoon yesterday a section of the roadway near the service station remained cordoned off by the police as they diverted traffic away from the scene.

A relative ⁠of a 62-year-old man who is one of the injured individuals, told the Sunday Observer on Saturday, “His two hands were severely burnt, and his face. Him just buy gas, drove off the pump, and came out the car to do something when the fire started. The doctors say he received thirty-five percent burns. We are hoping for the best and are thankful that he is still alive.”

An eyewitness who captured when the fire started on video said gas was pouring from one of the pumps at the petrol station before the blaze started.

The fire which started sometime after 5:00 pm had sent persons in the busy town panicking. Several vehicles were also damaged as a result of motorists rushing away from the scene.

Three fire units put out the blaze.

Mayor of Mandeville and chairman of the Manchester Municipal Corporation Donovan Mitchell has reiterated his concern about the location of the town’s fire station.

“Where the fire station is situated is right in the town centre itself, so it would have posed problems for them [firefighters] to get out of the space where the station is, but I know that there are some plans in the further development of Mandeville. We are hoping to see how best we can, through the Ministry of Local Government,…have another fire station or put the fire station at a better location. I think we still need more manpower and units for this town,” said Mitchell.

Kasey Williams contributed to this story

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Damaged, not destroyed by fire

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Damaged, not destroyed by fire

Sunday, February 23, 2020

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Yesterday’s Page 4 story was headlined, in error, that the Fesco service station in Mandeville was destroyed by fire. While the service station was damaged by a fire, it was not destroyed.

We regret any inconvenience caused by the wrong headline.


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Bernard Lodge squatters get regularised

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Over 100 squatters within the 2,000 acreage of the Bernard Lodge Estate destined for re-development, are being relocated into a new area of Portmore to facilitate the project.

According to the head of the implementation committee, Joseph Shoucair, over 40 of those squatters have already been removed to the relocation area, close to Grange Lane, and have been upgraded from squatters to property owners.

“There is no more squatting, and in the four months since they have been there, look at what they have been done. I am proud of this,” Shoucair told a crowded Vision Apostolic House of Prayer in Dunbeholden, St Catherine as he pointed to a map of the new relocation area for squatters.

The residents were also joined by Member of Parliament for St Catherine Southern, Fitz Jackson; Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) representative, Rev Welton Shettlewood and Mayor of Spanish Town, Councillor Norman Scott for the Community Sensitisation Meeting addressing the benefits and details of the recently approved revised Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan (GBLDMP).

Shoucair, who also heads the main developer, the Sugar Company Holdings (SCH) Limited, owners of the Bernard Lodge Estate, said that there were over 270 lessees, including the 104 affected by the relocation. The affected residents have each received two-acre pieces of land for relocation as the new owners.

“We have to accept that people don’t like to move. It is a natural human instinct, but once we overcome that problem, then we can make better of the move, than we have now,” he told the crowd.

He said that nine out of 10 of the squatters have not been paying rent, but those who pay have cash crops which will be valued and they will be reimbursed with cash payments, as well as other costs including irrigation tools and sheds, to ensure that nobody is worse off.

“They will be charged a concessional rent for the first year of relocation, so that they can re-establish themselves,” he added.

“What I want you to believe is that we are going to be actively engaged in your communities, because we want to build a good relationship with you,” he told the gathering.

Shoucair also denied that the project is about developing a new town, as has been suggested by some critics.

“It is a fallacy to believe that the Greater Bernard Lodge area is a new town. It will not be a new town. It will have an urban component, but it will be 56 per cent agricultural production and for the rest of 5,400 acres for housing and some commercial buildings and social services and a ‘retention pond’,” he stated.

A retention pond runs adjacent to, tributaries, streams, lakes or bays to protect against flooding and, in some cases, downstream erosion and to retain water for use in drought periods.

He said that a master plan is being developed of all the community sewage systems currently in use in the area, which will eventually filter into a central sewage system for the communities.

He also noted that there are areas of illegal activities such garbage dumping and sand mining which will have to be addressed.

“If we leave Bernard Lodge as it is now, do you think it is going to stop? It is going to get worse, and worse and worse. So doing nothing cannot be an option. We have to do something, but we have to make sure that we are mindful of what (MP) Jackson said, that we do something to benefit all the people,” he stated.

He said that it was also critical that when construction starts, skilled persons living in the affected communities benefit from the employment that is generated.

The GBLMP Revised Master Plan was announced two Fridays ago by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, at a press conference at Jamaica House.

It is a long term (20-year) plan able to accommodate future population growth in the Kingston Metropolitan Region (KMR), while creating a vibrant and sustainable community that addresses the challenges of affordable housing, transportation and access to jobs and services.

The revised Master Plan covers a total of 5,397.02 acres out of some 21,000 acres of former sugar estate lands, with 3,026.79 acres allotted for agricultural purposes and the remaining acreage divided between residential, commercial, light-manufacturing,

Attendees also received presentations and materials from the Social Development Commission (SDC), National Housing Trust (NHT), National Insurance Scheme (NIS), HEART Trust NTA, and the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) about the social services that will become accessible as part of the development.

Two notable members of the community, Senior Pastor Joan Mattis at the Vision Apostolic and President of the Dunbeholden Football Club, Donovan Witter also addressed the crowd.

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BREEDING KILLERS

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At least one of every three childen living in inner-city communities is exposed to violence that has left them so traumatised that some of them grow into hardened killers, according to one psychiatrist.

In fact, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Ganesh Shetty has pointed out that 25,000 children are seen annually at the 20 child guidance clinics across the island, but there are not enough child psychiatrists to attend to them. According to him, only one out of 20 children actually accesses the services offered at these clinics.

“This is a problem everywhere, but here in Jamaica it is worse. There is not enough of us to help the children. We only have three child guidance clinics in Kingston and St Andrew and, in my estimation, we have nearly 25,000 children who need help, but we try to do our best,” Dr Shetty told the Jamaica Observer last week.

“Gunmen don’t just appear out of nowhere and come to kill us; they are born and they face all kinds of traumatic experiences; they get used, abused and neglected, traumatised, and then at some point they become emotionally dead killers,” added Dr Shetty, who is also a child and adolescent psychiatrist with the child guidance clinic in the Kingston and St Andrew Health Department.

Dr Shetty made the revelations against the background of the five-year-old boy who was last Monday shot in the leg as gunmen sprayed his 27-year-old mother with bullets, killing her. That boy, he said, will need immediate and ongoing psychological therapy, having witnessed his mother’s death at such a young age.

On Tuesday, the Observer reported that the boy’s mother, Shantoll McCarthy of a Jones Town address, had been found with multiple gunshot wounds at her home after residents called police to the area.

The boy reportedly ran to a relative’s house in the community, his clothes soaked with blood, carrying the news of his mother’s gruesome death.

“Dem shot up mi mother and she dead, and dem shot me too,” were his words to relatives.

“This boy is traumatised, and he also has to deal with the grief from losing his mother. This is what you call traumatic grief, where both trauma and grieving happen simultaneously,” Dr Shetty explained.

“If he develops post-traumatic stress he will have a lot of re-experiencing of the situation. He might have nightmares and flashbacks. Even when he is playing, he might play with themes of what happened like guns and killing.

“It definitely will affect his emotional state and his behaviour. It will also affect his academic performance and level of achievement going forward, and it will also interfere with his ability to grieve his mother’s death, because as soon as he thinks of mother he will think of murder. He might become very withdrawn, clingy and tearful — basically afraid for his own life,” said Dr Shetty.

“At least one out of three children in inner-city communities is traumatised and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. This is the story for many of the children,” he said. He argued that while the five-year-old boy’s ordeal got the attention of the media, “There are so many children who experience it indirectly, living in violent communities where maybe someone next door or down the lane was killed and they experience post-traumatic stress, and at some point, if left untreated, they shut down the whole emotional system.”

Speaking to the likelihood of the five-year-old boy avoiding a transition to violent behaviour, due to his experience, Dr Shetty explained that, along with therapy, the boy should ideally be removed from the community if it remains volatile.

“If this five-year-old gets the help he needs, the chances are very good that he will grow up normal, but it has to be immediate and not just two or three sessions. We will have to track this child for years to make sure that he actually overcomes, because some children don’t show any symptoms for over six months or more,” the doctor said.

“We will have to help him to learn how to relax when all the reminders and triggers come his way. But if he remains in the community and in the night he is hearing gunshots, he will be triggered constantly. There is a need for him to be safeguarded from that community if it is still violence-infested,” said Dr Shetty.

“A lot of the times it is not safe for them to stay there, and so they are moved, not because we like to take the children away from their home; in fact, that is the last option we have for them. But then sometimes the environment is so toxic and hostile, to protect the children we have to move them,” he added.

He indicated further that, while removing children from these volatile environments is ideal, it is oftentimes not feasible.

“We don’t have a foster care system where we can insert the children, and only people who are committed to a certain extent will go into foster care,” he said.

Dr Shetty also explained that children who are traumatised not only develop anxiety problems, which is post-traumatic stress, but they also develop anger issues.

In the meantime, Dr Shetty said much emphasis should be placed on supporting the boy’s relatives.

“We will definitely have to help the family in how to be supportive and not be impatient with him, because he might be demanding and defiant sometimes.

“We need to take him to a point where he can actually be comfortable in grieving his mother. Nobody can replace his mother, but other family members will have a big role in making him feel that although mommy is gone, he has an auntie or dad, or someone who is there for him and he will be okay,” said Dr Shetty.

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