Feature
Education Specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Dr. Rebecca Tortello.

Story Highlights

  • As the world grapples with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Government recently engaged children and youth in a special digital town hall meeting to address their questions and concerns.
  • To support their participation in the event, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) solicited questions through its social messaging tool, ‘U-Report’, which is used to learn more about the views of young Jamaicans across the island, primarily targeting those aged 13 to 29.
  • Speaking with JIS News, Education Specialist at UNICEF Jamaica, Dr. Rebecca Tortello, points out that during crises like COVID-19, children can be the hidden victims of the various health, economic and education implications.

As the world grapples with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Government recently engaged children and youth in a special digital town hall meeting to address their questions and concerns.

To support their participation in the event, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) solicited questions through its social messaging tool, ‘U-Report’, which is used to learn more about the views of young Jamaicans across the island, primarily targeting those aged 13 to 29.

Speaking with JIS News, Education Specialist at UNICEF Jamaica, Dr. Rebecca Tortello, points out that during crises like COVID-19, children can be the hidden victims of the various health, economic and education implications.

“We understand how important it is for the voices of children to be heard and our U-Report platform provides an opportunity for the concerns of our younger citizens to be shared directly with the country’s leadership,” she says.

UNICEF Jamaica is also working closely with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, its agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to compile learning and teaching resources to assist educators and parents/caregivers in militating against some of the potential adverse impacts on children while they are away from their regular school environments and routines.

“We want our parents to know that we acknowledge the expanded teaching role they have taken on and we will be supporting them as this situation evolves, by encouraging them and getting them information and access to resources,” Dr. Tortello says.

“The UNICEF Jamaica team is committed to giving their unwavering support through this emergency period of school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, because we recognise from experience in global public health crises that school closures can have adverse consequences for children’s well-being and learning, particularly those from vulnerable communities,” she adds.

UNICEF has made available a list of free digital tools for use by teachers and parents to support remote learning as well as recreational activities at home. These resources, including information on a parenting helpline coordinated by the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC), can be found on the COVID-19 page on UNICEF Jamaica’s website, https://www.unicef.org/jamaica/coronavirus-disease-covid-19. UNICEF Jamaica is currently developing multimedia content for the COVID-19 response with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Education Ministry and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). For up-to-date information on COVID-19, persons can follow UNICEF Jamaica on all social media platform – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram/UNICEF connect blog/ website, http://www.unicef.org/jamaica/.

For info on U Report persons can visit https://jamaica.ureport.in/.

In cooperation with governments and NGOs, UNICEF saves and protects the world’s most vulnerable children, working to ensure child rights and providing healthcare, immunisations, nutrition, access to safe water and sanitation services, basic education, protection and emergency relief.

The Fund is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs, and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.

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