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JIS News

The Ministry of Education has developed a Citizenship Education Programme, which is intended to arm young people with the skills to become productive, responsible, and caring citizens and fully contribute to society.
The initiative, which is being implemented through the Education Transformation Project, will incorporate values and attitudes, character education, patriotism, service learning, and co-curricula activities. It will also seek to inform students about the country, including the systems and structure of government, their rights, and Jamaica’s place within the Caribbean and international community.
One of the recommendations of the Education Task Force, the programme is intended to address anti-social and violent behaviors, which have permeated all sectors of society, including schools. By promoting issues such as cultural heritage and citizens rights, the intent is to instill in students, a sense of patriotism and therefore a need to care for and protect their environment and their country.
According to Programme Co-ordinator, Celia Champagnie, the initiative is about “working together as citizens in the community, firstly the school community and then the wider community, to improve their surroundings, the environment, the economy and going out and basically making Jamaica a force to be dealt with in the 21st Century.”
Explaining how the project will work, she says that teachers, from the kindergarten to sixth form level, will begin introducing parts of the curriculum into existing courses after which the programme will be rolled out as a complete subject area.
“So from they are little babies, we will be teaching them R is for respect, S is for self and by the time they reach to the fourth or fifth form level, they will be aware of the International Charter on Human Rights and the Rights of the Child,” she points out.
“They will be aware that there are legal bases for this respect and that this will hopefully make them better citizens, so that when they graduate, they are more informed of the laws of the country and associate better with other citizens thereby instituting positive behavior in the long run,” she adds.
The programme is already being introduced as a pilot in 120 schools in regions one and six, along with the Ministry’s other new initiative, the Home School Agreement Programme, which seeks to get parents, students and schools to agree on basic issues such as punctuality, good teaching and parenting. These qualities will go hand in hand with those being promoted under the Citizenship Programme.
“We are hoping that this agreement, along with the continued education being offered in schools and with the students going back into their communities and actually doing projects in communities as good citizens, will create a sort of self-sustaining mode for the project so that by next year, we will definitely have much to show for the programme in Jamaica,” Miss Champagnie expresses.
During the pilot phase, six trainers will continuously interact with the schools and ensure hiccups can be addressed on the ground.
“Although we will have a manual and a guideline for the trainers, we hope it will adapt to the environment in rural schools and in inner city areas all over Kingston , so that we will be able to get the feedback,” the Programme Co-ordinator says. From that feedback, the Ministry’s goal is to create a world class programme that will excite students and benefit the society in a tangible way.
“We just see this as a subject area that they (students) will look forward to with anticipation because it’s going to be a very relaxed mode. It’s going to be filled with conversation and its going to take the students into a place where they eventually realize there is more to being an adult than they think, and there is an exciting world out there,” Miss Champagnie points out.
She tells JIS News that expectations for the project are very high. “I expect to hear many more questions about why and how but eventually, we hope that we will make it such that the entire project will become part of not only the school curriculum but that the wider Jamaican society will be involved in just working together and understanding their role from this project,” she states.
For further information on the Citizenship in Schools Programme, members of the public may contact the Education Transformation Team at 929-2324, 908-1796.