• JIS News

    Access to research material and technical reports on Caribbean policy issues, particularly those relating to social developments in Jamaica, has been enhanced through the creation of the Jamaica Social Policy Research Database (JAMSPRED).
    The database, which was officially launched at the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) downtown Kingston on Wednesday (March 5), is a collaborative effort involving the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Research (SALISES) at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona; NLJ, and the Jamaica Social Policy Evaluation (JASPEV) project in the Office of the Cabinet. The database will be hosted on the NLJ’s website.
    Speaking at the launch, Chairperson of JAMSPRED’s working group, Jenny Jones, said the objective of the database is to sensitize persons about the studies and “provide summary information or abstracts of their content, and give details of the actual location of the documents.
    “Where it is possible, JAMSPRED aims to have an electronic copy of documents, and it has started with a few complete and high quality research studies and reports on the database, which the public would probably have great difficulty accessing otherwise,” she outlined.
    Another aim, she noted, is to provide links to other websites where data on Jamaica and the Caribbean can be found, noting that there are presently “over a dozen links, including all (of) the Jamaican ministry websites, one or two public sector agencies such as the Supreme Court, and a few Jamaican NGOs (Non- Governmental Organizations).”
    These, she said, include Caribbean and international links, with more expected to be added in the future. Guests attending the launch were given a demonstration on how to access the system by SALISES’ librarian, Norma Davis.
    Miss Jones explained that the concept for the database evolved out of discussions initiated by JASPEV, and held with SALISES and the NLJ. JASPEV, she informed, provided funding through a grant from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), while SALISES undertook the development of the database, and NLJ made its website available for hosting the database.
    “This public sector/civil society partnership was sealed last year when a memorandum of understanding was signed between the three institutions. Since then, the web pages have been designed, more data has been collected and entered so that entries have now reached over 600, including academic studies, technical reports for ministries, NGO papers, research reports for international agencies, and conference papers,” she informed.
    Guest speaker, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, Department Psychology, Sociology, and Social Work, UWI, Hermoine McKenzie, in endorsing JAMSPRED, said: “it gives the opportunity for every interested and concerned citizen, as well as specialist researchers and students, to access information about social policies in Jamaica and worldwide.”
    “Social policy reflects the efforts of governments and other organizations to address the living conditions and social lives of members of society. What is so meaningful about the database is that the combined experiences and efforts of all the sectors devoted to social policy can be brought together to be preserved and shared,” she said.
    Mrs. McKenzie noted that a critical aspect of the JASPEV project, out of which the database evolved, is the emphasis on evidence and results-based approaches to social policy.
    “Basically, the JASPEV project sought to uncover as much information as possible on social policies being implemented, and as much data as possible on outcomes and on lessons learnt,” she pointed out.
    Stressing the need for much more to be done in addressing social policy in evidence-based ways, Mrs. McKenzie said JAMSPRED, with its close to 800 records and capacity to accommodate a greater number of documents, “is an excellent and ongoing contribution to the process.”
    Other speakers at the function included Acting Principal Director in the Policy Development Section, Office of the Cabinet, Deborah Patrick Gardner; Executive Director of SALISES, Professor Neville Duncan; and Executive Director of the NLJ, Winsome Hudson.

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