MP regrets delay in renaming high school in honour of Enid Bennett

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, June 21, 2018

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MEMBER of Parliament (MP) for St Catherine West Central Dr Christopher Tufton says he regrets not having the late Enid Bennett around today to witness her legacy.

Dr Tufton made the statement at a ceremony at Bog Walk High School in St Catherine on Tuesday, which was renamed Enid Bennett High School in honour of the late former state minister who was instrumental in the establishment of the institution.

The MP, who disclosed that the first attempt to rename the school in her honour did not materialise, said the decision to rename the St Catherine school was taken a few days after her death.

“I told her that I was going to make another attempt because I truly believe that she deserved it, having served over three decades... She deserves the recognition for the contribution that she has made, and I took up the case with the minister (Ruel Reid), with the honourable prime minister (Andrew Holness); the minister, of course, carried the baton, and I am so grateful, as we all are, and the Cabinet approved it,” Dr Tufton said during the renaming ceremony.

As he expressed his regrets, Dr Tufton said he was also disappointed that they were unable to inform Bennett when she was alive, or even on her deathbed at St Joseph's Hospital in Kingston, that they had achieved the objective.

“Now I know she knows, from where she is, looking down, but it would have been well... to recognise her for her achievement while she was here, [rather] than after she left. And I say that that was the bittersweet feeling that I had on that day,” Dr Tufton continued.

The MP, who at a point in his political journey was mentored by Bennett, said she was the longest-serving female Member of Parliament.

“Serving in the context of a world where it was more male-dominated, where you had to face challenges and had to be bullish about those challenges; many would agree that she was little in stature, but she was strong in determination, in commitment, in sacrifice, and in her drive to improve the conditions of all the people she came in contact with. She served best, I believe, even though she served well everywhere, [including] as the people's representative at the local community level,” Dr Tufton said, adding that her achievements are many.

According to Dr Tufton, Bennett brought electricity to communities that had never seen light unless it was a torch.

“... Bringing roads to places where is only donkey track existed. And in the area of education, she was committed to seeing the next generation grown up better than the current generation, and she understood the need to use education as that key mobilisation tool — that tool of social and economic development and mobilisation,” Tufton said, as he described her as a visionary.

Bennett, who was born in Linstead on May 18, 1931, was instrumental in securing lands for the building of the school which is now named in her honour. She started her education at Linstead Primary School then matriculated to St Helen Commercial School, where she qualified as a stenographer. She began serving the Jamaica Labour Party at a young age as a branch delegate and later constituency secretary.

Bennett's grand-niece, Belinda-Gae Orrett, said at the ceremony that her family was pleased with the renaming of the school in Bennett's honour. “We, the members of her family, accept this honour with pride and humility,” Orrett said, as she thanked the Government and the school's administration.

Orrett said one of her late grand-aunt's proudest achievements was her role in the establishment of the school, “to give the children a ladder whereby they can climb out of poverty. We are happy that her work has been recognised. We are happy because it means her sterling service will never be forgotten”.

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