JIS News

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has appealed to a Jamaican/Canadian charitable organisation to assist Grade Four students in the Jamaican education system.
“Grade Four is that critical grade when you have to show mastery in numeracy and literacy in order to do well in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT),” Mr. Bartlett told patrons attending the fifth annual Jamaica Charity Ball on Friday (September 24).
The ball was organised by the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF) and was held at the Donalda Club, Toronto, Canada, under the theme, ‘Participate. Educate. Elevate.’
Mr. Bartlett revealed that, in competency tests done last year, only 42 per cent of Grade Four students showed mastery in numeracy, and 52 per cent showed mastery in literacy.
“This year we are putting in a special programme, to ensure that every single child in every primary school in Jamaica in Grade Four has access to the two critical workbooks that are needed to ensure mastery in literacy and numeracy,” he said.
“And I want to ask that in your fundraising efforts this year you adopt a grade four class. Because, when you make contributions to children you are in fact securing the future of the world,” he observed.
Mr. Bartlett thanked the group for their “tremendous work” in raising the level of consciousness of the need to respond to the educational needs of Jamaica.
The HHJF, which was formed in 2006, has already donated close to C$170,000 to 10 Jamaican schools and hospitals. Earlier this year, the organisation launched the Appleton Estate Walk for Education, which raised C$23,000. It also responded to the earthquake disaster in Haiti, by organising a dinner which raised C$12,000 for the country.
HHJF also rebuilt the Bernard Early Childhood Institution in Seaforth, St. Thomas, in conjunction with Food for the Poor, from funds raised at last year’s gala.
Executive Director of Food for the Poor Canada, Samantha Mahfood, recalled that the school was originally built in 1956, but was destroyed by a tropical storm in 2002. For the past eight years, classes have been held in the community centre, but now the amenities at the new school include a kitchen, bathrooms, sick bay and principal’s office.
“When I was there, I was so happy to see the sanctuary that the youngest students of Seaforth will learn in; a new school that belongs to them,” said Ms. Mahfood.
Chair of Helping Hands Jamaica, Karl Hale, said the organisation is developing partnerships in Jamaica to foster better education for the youth.
“Our partners in Jamaica are the Oracabessa Foundation, Sandy Bank Primary, Tennis Jamaica, Port Antonio Hospital, Percy Junor Hospital and Food for the Poor,” he said.
In 2011, the organisation plans to: build another school; build a learning centre at Sandy Bank Primary School; support a learning centre at Oracabessa Primary; and establish a training programme for residents of Oracabessa.
Patrons attending the Charity Ball not only enjoyed the music of Jamaican songstress Karen Smith, but also had the opportunity to bid on items, including trips to Jamaica and Niagara Falls, trip by helicopter and audio and video equipment.
In attendance were Consul at the Consulate General in Toronto, Nigel Smith; Regional Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board, Sandra Scott; Executive Director of Jamaica Vacations (JAMVAC), Lionel Reid; Regional Sales and Marketing Manager for Appleton, Peter Hottman; and President of Island Outpost, Jason Henzell.

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