Jamaica PM talks parenting
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has appealed to Jamaicans to rid themselves of the traditional cultural practices that he says have held the country back from becoming a modern nation and kept its people poor.
The comments, referring specifically to Jamaican attitudes towards parenting, were made as he addressed delegates at the launch of the 2011 Parents’ Month at the YMCA in Kingston yesterday morning.
“When fathers are allowed to escape their responsibility, it has a particular effect on the development of our males in the society,” Holness said.
“The Government has already started drafting legislation to ensure that at least every child has their father’s name on their birth certificate. We see this as critically important, a critical first step in ensuring that fathers can be held responsible for their duties to their children. That legislation is already drafted and will come to Parliament shortly.” Speaking with The Gleaner, Holness drew from his own experiences of being a father as he explained that planned parenthood was critical.
“First of all, I dealt with planned parenting. I decided when I would have my children. And I thought that was very important for my life because I invested in a career first, developed the ability to maintain children and it wasn’t only a financial decision but it was a decision as to what point in my career would I have time to dedicate to children,” he told The Gleaner.
“What we really want to happen is for persons to spend further time in education, develop a career. We need to educate them to that way, we need to bring them to that way. We need to use social safety net as an incentive to get them to take charge of their reproductivity and balance that with their productivity which is to get a career, get employment, then you can get income and then you can make a decision as to income versus time that you’ll have for family. So for me, planned parenting is critical.”
Holness, who retained responsibility for the Ministry of Education after becoming prime minister, added that education was key to reversing what he called ‘bad culture’.
“It’s far more about culture than anything else, but the strategy is to use education to break bad culture and you know there’s so many persons who hold on to their culture, they feel that, well it’s our culture, but culture is not static, culture is dynamic and we must change our culture. Culture is not divorced from economics, we are poor because we hold on to some value systems in our culture that keep us poor and we need to break that and change that.”
The prime minister said the Government’s strategy has to be to employ a new direction in social welfare by not only supporting pregnant and lactating mothers, but by also using the welfare system as a preventative measure.
“When we re-examine the PATH programme (Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education) and other such benefits, these programmes are what we call conditional cash transfers but we will have to look at additional conditionalities on the transfers to make sure that we’re using it to counter the negative cultural practices that have held us back,” the prime minister said.