"Changing Lives Forever" – This is what the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) is doing through its various adult and youth education programmes.
As an organisation on a mission, the JFLL seeks to ensure an educated adult population empowered through lifelong learning opportunities. The organisation is best known for the programmes it offers in basic literacy and numeracy to adults who are literacy challenged and more recently, has been enjoying a growing reputation for its secondary programmes.
The JFLL has a long and significant history in the country’s educational landscape, having been originally named the Jamaican Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL) which was established in 1974, to eradicate adult illiteracy in the shortest time possible.
Other objectives were also to improve the literacy skills among the adult population of Jamaica; and to develop human resources and therefore enable each adult citizen to participate meaningfully in the social, economic and cultural development of the country.
A name change from JAMAL to the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning in 2006 also marked an expansion in the scope of its offerings. While still serving literacy challenged Jamaicans 15 years old and older, who are enrolled in the formal education system, JFLL has now expanded its programmes to include the High School Equivalency Programme (HISEP), providing adults with the opportunity to get secondary level qualification and certification.
Under HISEP, participants can study English language, English literature, Mathematics, Science and Technology and Society and Citizenship. This prepares them to get either the High School Equivalency Diploma (HISED), or do CSEC’s in these subject areas.
This marks a very significant expansion for the JFLL and Jamaica in the area of adult and youth education as it transforms this educational provider to a critical pathway to enable learners to achieve their fullest potential allowing them to contribute even more meaningfully in all aspects of our society.
In 2011, the organisation introduced a programme called the JFLL Secondary. Learners have the opportunity to take classes in English and Mathematics using an individualised instructional methodology focusing on providing support from Grades seven through to 11, and preparing them to register for CSEC in these subjects.
“One of the things we realize is that a lot of persons have 3 or more CXC subjects such as Home Economics or other subjects and want to pursue further studies but are not able to do so because they do not have Mathematics and English,” explains Colin Neita, Public Relations and Marketing Manager at the JFLL.
He adds that, “Success and certification in Mathematics and English at the secondary level allows the participants to pursue further studies at the tertiary level or use this additional qualification to get a better job or to get a promotion at the job they are currently doing. The HISEP, JFLL Secondary and indeed all of the programmes of the JFLL offer adults and youth a great opportunity to change lives forever”.
Mrs. Dalyn Taylor Dennie a 54 year-old grandmother of three has high commendations for HISEP, which has advance her career and personal life even as she works to complete the programme. “I was not fortunate enough for somebody to care so much as to send me to high school. I only attained primary level education. The programme has been good to me,” she says.
Mrs. Taylor Dennie who worked as a domestic helper and an office attendant for most of her working life is living testimony to the power of lifelong learning.
“Since my involvement in the [HISEP] programme I was promoted from an office attendant to a telephone operator, and I also work as a receptionist and customer service representative in my organization, ”she tells JIS.
Mrs. Taylor-Dennie now serves as a volunteer spokesperson for the Foundation and regularly attends PATH seminars and workshops to give motivational talks.
In addition to the over 30 JFLL adult education centres and more than 100 classes in churches and community centres across the island, there is also the Workplace Education in Literacies and Life Skills programme managed by the JFLL Workplace Unit.
“What is interesting about our Workplace programme is that we offer customized interventions focusing on the specific needs of the organization of community. This process involves going into a company or a community group, assess the members of staff or community members and analyzing this data to determine levels of literacy,” Mr. Neita says.
He further informs that, “We then offer consultancy services to the Human Resource teams outlining recommendations for appropriate JFLL academic interventions or making recommendations for further training within the organization or community based on our intervention. This customized service improves individual levels of literacy skills and leads to improved productivity in the workplace – a win-win for all involved”.
He pointed out that recently the JFLL partnered with Sandals Resorts International as a component of the Sandals Corporate University. “JFLL provides the service outlined above – assessment, analysis, academic intervention to the secondary level – to enable learners to achieve their fullest potential personally, on the job and in their communities,” he explains.
“My experience with the Foundation has been all together wonderful”, says Chairman of the Browns Town Branch of the JFLL, Paul Harding, adding that, “My relationship with the organisation began in 1976. At the age of 22, I had a serious challenge. I remembered receiving a letter and was unable to read it. This embarrassing incident along with others was the driving force that propelled me into enrolling into JAMAL”.
This is where Mr. Harding’s journey from a handyman at a ‘patty shop’, to a cabaret singer, a chef, to becoming the owner of St. Ann Caterers, started. According to Mr. Harding he became so tied to ‘JAMAL’, so much so that in 1977, he was a ‘star bwoy’ and in 1979 he was adjudged the top student for the parish of St. Ann.
Mr. Harding’s involvement with the JFLL now extends to teaching and giving inspirational talks and also as Parish Chairman for St. Ann.
“The transformation that I have experienced in my life I owe it to the JFLL. My advice to anyone who is literacy challenged to ‘register and log on’ to one of the programmes because this will change their lives forever,” Mr. Harding says.
The JFLL is excited about partnering with various organisations to raise literacy levels, to empower individuals, to achieve their fullest potential in order to make Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and to do business. Interested persons may visit the JFLL website at: www.jfll.gov.jm, facebook.com/jfll, or call 928-5181 for further information.