EDUCATION Minister Ronald Thwaites says during 2014 there has been a heightened awareness by many people of the value of education to their personal development. He points to the uptake by thousands of young persons of existing and expanded opportunities to advance their education.
 
Expanded opportunities include the launch of the High School Diploma Equivalency programme by the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning; the restructuring and rebranding of the Career Advancement Programme; the launch of the Registered Apprenticeship Programme; the introduction by HEART Trust/NTA of a community training initiative for unattached youth; and the provision of adequate funding to the Student Loan Bureau.
 
Minister Thwaites says these achievements in the education sector during 2014 are the result of the combined efforts of teachers, school leaders, ministry staff, parents, partners and students.  He pays special tribute to principals and board chairmen who kept the doors of schools open despite the challenges of significant levels of absenteeism by staff and students arising from the impact of the Chikungunya virus outbreak.
 
The Education Minister commends all stakeholders for their contribution to the education sector during the year that is coming to a close, and expresses best wishes to all during the Christmas holiday and for the New Year.