No sidewalks on Irwin Road expose students to danger


The quality of construction, management and sustainability of a country’s public social institutions and physical infrastructure is a mirror of the mentality and perception of the government towards the people who elected them. 

Around the time of the dismissal of schools, I drove along the Tucker main road in St. James, and then negotiated a steep left turn onto the pothole-riddled and dusty Irwin Road. Hundreds of students from both Irwin High and Primary Schools were traversing, by foot, the roadways going in the direction of Montego Bay. Along both roadways there was the absence of sidewalks. Consequently, the children were literally battling with the vehicles speeding along the Tucker main road. Further, there were the thick clouds of dust, generated by the vehicles along the Irwin Road, which were stifling the students.  With both vehicles and students wrestling for space, there is a momentous human tragedy waiting to happen!

If education and the safety and security of our nation’s children were vital issues for any government, then educational institutions would not have been built devoid of suitable physical infrastructure for the safety, security, and health of students. What appears to be a priority is simply building schools as holding areas, as is done for animals, for the children between school hours. Battling with the sun, dust, and traffic, these children are treated like the animals of the former Irwin Estate on which their ancestors toiled, rounded up in the morning and released in the afternoon. Is it because these children are not of the upper social strata, hence their animal-like treatment? 

Returning to my thesis, we can conclude that the poor building, management, and maintenance of social institutions is indicative that governments have either minimal or absolutely no interest in the development of poor black children. The recent protests and road blocking by residents badly affected by the poor management of the construction of the south coast highway in St. Thomas is another example that supports my thesis. 

I therefore encourage the Student Council body of the Irwin High School to begin actively advocate for their school leaders, Member of Parliament the Honourable Marlene Malahoo Forte, the Municipal Councillors, and the Ministry of Education to urgently address the lack of sidewalks, among other things, for their security and safety. If the leaders do not value your lives then, like your rebellious ancestors, we must fight to remind them that you are valued.

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