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The Northeast United States (US) Education Committee of the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation has been commended for its “growing partnership with the Jamaican government in furthering educational reform and providing significant support” for current initiatives, particularly in the area of secondary education.
Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson lauded the Committee at a meeting last weekend, which was hosted by the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington.
At the meeting, the Committee officially launched its first initiative in its Diaspora Partnership School Project, which is aimed at assisting the St. James High School in Montego Bay in a range of critical areas.
The Minister also commended the Foundation for its commitment to Jamaica and reiterated the need for the Diaspora to play an increasing and even more visible role in key development areas of the country. She cited the work of the Education Committee as representing a “clear demonstration of a new partnership that would ultimately result in significant dividends for the country’s educational system in particular, and Jamaican youth in general”.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson noted that collaborative efforts, such as the Committee’s sponsorship of a major reform project at the St. James High School, would provide Jamaicans in the Diaspora who have been exploring ways to make a contribution to the country’s development, to “meaningfully assist the country and to make a real difference in the lives of these young people”.
She pointed out that the Committee shared the vision of the Ministry in its effort to transform education in such a way that “it will excite people around the issue and lead to the creation of new approaches that would instill a sense of anticipation and curiosity among young learners”. “We have to be creative and be open to making the changes which are necessary, so that our schools will be transformed into places where all our students are truly excited about learning,” she said. The Diaspora partnership school project is intended to foster the establishment of an accelerated learning programme, which will seek to provide an enhanced Math and Literacy curriculum at St. James High School and also develop a comprehensive after-school programme to keep students off the streets and provide them with life-skills training, as well as engage them in other extra-curricular activities. In addition, the project will focus on providing professional development for the school’s staff, foster increased parental and community partnerships, make structural improvements to the school and its library, and provide needed child-family support to curtail anti-social behaviour.
The former Dean of Temple University’s College of Education and Jamaican psychologist, Dr. Trevor Sewell, will head the Diaspora partnership project. Dr. Sewell is also the Chair of the Diaspora Foundation’s Education Committee.
The meeting, which was convened by Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Professor Gordon Shirley, was also attended by members of the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation, drawn primarily from the states of New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.