JIS News

The Ministry of Education, has partnered with Great Shape Inc., a non profit organisation, based in the United States (US), to host a literacy empowerment project, for at least 5,000 students in Region 3.
Literacy Co-ordinator, Laurel Brent Harris, made the disclosure in an interview with JIS News.
“We have found that a number of persons and organisations have an interest in assisting with our literacy concerns, especially for the students who are in early childhood and primary schools, and what we have tried to do, is identify these individuals or groups and streamline whatever they want to do to assist us. The group [Great Shape Inc.,] that is working now in St. Ann, initially started in Westmoreland, but they shifted to Region 3, that’s the St. Ann area, because of the partnership with Sandals, and also because they had identified some schools that needed this extra support,” she explained.
The Co-ordinator pointed out that the four participating schools are: Parry Town Primary, Boscobel Primary, Breadnut Hill Primary and Walkerswood Primary and Junior High.
“They have some challenges, and we at the Ministry have placed some cluster-based specialists in these schools, to assist the teachers and to work with the students, so when we heard of the partnership that Great Shape Inc. wanted to establish, we were happy and we met with them and encouraged them to come in and work along with us for the limited time,” she noted.
According to Mrs. Brent Harris, the partnership with the US based group, forms part of the Ministry’s strategic objectives.
“This is also part of our strategic objectives, where we have established partnerships with governmental and non governmental organizations, in soliciting support for literacy endeavours, so when the group came in…we looked at the strategies that they will be sharing with the teachers and we have actually sanctioned much of what they intended to do,” she pointed out.
The project, which commenced earlier this week, is called ‘SuperKids’, and is being implemented by 32 volunteers from Great Shape Inc. The volunteers are implementing curriculum and providing resources for literacy, computers, music, sports and art.
“They have brought with them several items, for example, musical equipment, and over 9,000 reading books. They have also been working with the students to check on their dental needs. The project will go on until November 14, and at the end of that period, we will have a debriefing session,” Mrs. Brent Harris pointed out.
The debriefing session, according to the Co-ordinator, would look at “what really took place, how teachers and schools benefitted, persons will get an opportunity to express their appreciation and also to see what impact this intervention had on the students, who were a part of the programme.”
In the meantime, Mrs. Brent Harris is lauding the work of Great Shape Inc., and is appealing to other organisations to support the cause.
“This is something that the Ministry has been promoting, especially through the Education Transformation Team, and I am happy to say that the response has been tremendous, so we fully endorse what is happening [with Great Shape Inc. and Sandals] and we hope that other groups, which have a vested interest in education, will come on board and assist us in achieving our critical objectives,” she said.
“If we are going to achieve our objectives, if we are going to raise the levels of performance of our students, the Government cannot do it alone; partnerships are critical in achieving higher levels of literacy, partnerships from private organisations, members of the Diaspora or, anyone who has something to offer, whether by human resource or material resource,” she added.
The ‘SuperKids’ Project is an international partnership between Great Shape Inc., Sandals Resorts International, First Book and the Ministry of Education. Great Shape Inc. has facilitated humanitarian projects in Jamaica for 20 years and its volunteers work in communities with traditionally low literacy rates.

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