Govt. Designing Mobile Learning Unit to Help ‘Out Of School’ Young Persons


The Government is currently designing an innovative Mobile Learning Unit targeting the 13 per cent total “out of school youth”, according to Dr. Donald Rhodd, State Minister with responsibility for Youth Development in the Ministry of Education, Youth & Culture.
Addressing a JIS ‘Think Tank’ recently, Dr. Rhodd noted that the main objective of the Unit was to reach young people, particularly in urban centres, who were not voluntarily going into training centres.
The project is being conducted in collaboration with several youth-serving organizations, including the National Youth Service (NYS), the HEART Trust/NTA, the Social Development Commission (SDC), the Jamaica Business Development Centre, the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), among others.
“We know that the formal education system is supposed to treat with young people from early childhood to the tertiary level, but regardless of what we do, some persons are still stuck on the corners,” Dr. Rhodd pointed out.
“We want to demonstrate to them that we care. If they are not coming to us, we are going for them through an innovative and creative programme using a number of technologies,” he added.
The Unit will consist of a multi-functional mobile computer laboratory training centre (a Youth Information Centre on wheels), capable of driving into communities and parking on the ‘corners’, while acting as a source of information dissemination.
The programme will involve the design of three 30 x 84 ft Mobile Learning Units outfitted with approximately 15 computers and state-of-the- art distance learning, and career guidance from tutors.Participants will be exposed to basic skills training in the use of dominant computer programmes, as well as the Internet.
Acknowledging the link between the entertainment industry and the urban centres, Dr. Rhodd noted that special emphasis would be placed on music editing and mixing, as well as graphic designing software.
Dr. Rhodd said that a needs assessment survey would be conducted by social workers across targeted communities to determine the specific needs of those young people, prior to the implementation of the project. The survey would determine factors such as the number of high school graduates, the reasons for dropping out, as well as the skills they possess.The young persons will be assessed to determine their aptitude and attitude, and guided towards the best set of options available to them.
As such, the initiative will also serve to increase participation of unemployed ‘out of school’ young people, through facilitating access to volunteer programmes.
Following the completion of the programme, participants will be referred to corresponding institutions where they can continue to pursue training in their newly acquired skills.
According to the 2002/2003 Planning Institute of Jamaica Economic and Social Survey, approximately 87 per cent of school-aged children were enrolled in secondary schools, while the remaining 13 per cent was unattached.

JIS Social