KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition Leader Andrew Holness told a joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament this morning that he would rather have the building of schools than prisons, in response to the UK’s announcement to build a penal institution here for Jamaicans imprisoned in Britain to complete their sentences.
Holness made the statement after welcoming British Prime Minister David Cameron on his first official visit to the island.
Noting the improvements that the UK has made in education, particularly in skills and apprenticeship, Holness noted that a similar approach should be adopted in Jamaica.
“The key lesson here is educating our people particularly in skills is the best way to spur human development to support a growth agenda and to keep the poor and dispossessed out of prison” he said.
“As it turns out, building schools contribute much more to the growth agenda than building prisons,” he added.
Cameron has promised a roughly £300 million aid package to upgrade infrastructure across the Caribbean and reinvigorate Britain’s relationship with the region.
Of that sum, £25 million will go towards funding the construction of a prison here, where the Jamaicans incarcerated in England will complete sentences.
The Opposition leader also outlined several areas where Jamaica and the United Kingdom had improved ties and welcomed the “genuine interest of Prime Minister Cameron in advancing the relationship between our two countries on trade and investment and security”.