JIS News

The African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank (ACIJ/JMB), on Wednesday (March 4), launched its much anticipated CD-ROM, ‘Afro-Jamaican Religions: Kumina, Revival and Rastafari’, at the Institute of Jamaica, in Downtown Kingston.
Addressing an audience of some 200 high school students and teachers, Professor Emerita at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Maureen Warner-Lewis, said the CD-ROM represented an excellent opportunity for Jamaicans to explore an important aspect of the country’s cultural heritage.
“This subject of non-Christian religions in Jamaica and the Caribbean is meant to assist you to better understand the various ideas, belief systems and practices of people who, like you, live in the same environment. It is a very important aid to your study and understanding of these religions and the society of which you are a part,” she pointed out.
The CD-ROM, which uses text, pictures and links to audio-visual content, to provide an overview of Afro-Jamaican religions, is specifically geared towards students sitting Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) examinations.
“Although it is useful to anybody who has an interest in Afro-Jamaican religions, the CD targets, very specifically, students who are doing CSEC examinations in the subjects – History, Social Studies and Religious Education – because on the syllabus for each of these subjects, there are areas that cover Afro-Jamaican religions,” Senior Research Fellow at the ACIJ/JMB, Dr. Julian Cresser, told JIS News.
He urged the students as well as the general public to, “take advantage of this interactive CD-ROM that we have produced. We have really made an effort to create a product that makes learning interesting, makes the experience an interactive one, so there are audio-visual clips and pictures, in addition to the usual text, and we hope that this effort in reaching the public in this new and exciting way will not be a wasted one”.
Additionally, Dr. Cresser pointed out that the CD-ROM would enable the ACIJ to reach out to more Jamaicans, especially those in rural areas.
“We do realise how difficult it is for persons living outside Kingston to come in to us at the ACIJ to use our material and so this is just another way in which we are trying to get the information from the ACIJ out to the wider audience and extend our reach,” he said.
In this initial stage of production, about 450 copies of the CD-ROM were produced, and according to Dr. Cresser, they would be accessible in high schools across Jamaica, as well as at the Parish Libraries and the National Library of Jamaica.
For researchers and persons who might want individual copies, he informed that they could write to the ACIJ/JMB, 12 Ocean Boulevard, Downtown Kingston or call 922-7415 and request a copy.
On the value of the CD-ROM to high school students, History and Religious Education teacher at Calabar High School, Anicia Lawrence, told JIS News that, “it is definitely useful, especially to the Religious Education students, because they have the option of choosing one of the indigenous Caribbean religions, be it Rastafari, Revival or Kumina, and based on what was presented, the different aspects such as worship, beliefs, paraphernalia and so on, the CD-ROM would give them basic information and a foundation on which to build their School Based Assessment.”
The CD-ROM was funded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) National Commission.

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