Terrelonge bats for girls in STEM
State Minister in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Alando Terrelonge has challenged students at St George's Girls' Primary and Infant School in Kingston to strive to achieve at the highest levels.
In addressing students at the school's annual Reading Fair in observation of National Reading Week on Wednesday, he charged them not to let discouragement blight their fortunes.
"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, '" Terrelonge told them.
Major strides made
The minister noted that Jamaica had made major strides towards achieving gender equality in all sectors of society but pointed out 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 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 her dreams and aspirations," he said.
Terrelonge encouraged the girls to place focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) when they get to high school as the demand for professionals in those areas continues to grow.
He pointed out that globally, girls start to self-select out of STEM courses in early secondary school. Societal attitudes sometimes hinder girls' participation, the minister warned, as the fields of science and technology are often considered to be dominated by males.
He urged parents to read to and with their 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," Terrelonge stressed.