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TORONTO — Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte, has lauded PACE (Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education) Canada for adopting over 300 early childhood institutions in Jamaica.

“PACE is a fine example of what happens when one answers the call to serve,” Minister Malahoo Forte said, while addressing patrons at the annual fundraising “Strawberry Social” organised by PACE Canada, at the Grande Luxe, Toronto, on Sunday June 5.

The Minister commended PACE Canada for making a positive contribution to Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Jamaica, and their “generosity, kindness and support."

Founded in 1987 by Jamaican educator Dr. Mavis Burke, PACE Canada responded to a call from then Prime Minister, the Most Hon Edward Seaga, to assist basic schools in Jamaica. The organization sponsors scholarships for ECE teachers, and the annual Helen Isobel Sissons Canadian Children’s Story Award which encourages development of quality literature for young children, as well as the “Tech Di Bus” programme, which introduces computers to young students, and supports the one-laptop-per-child initiative. 

President of PACE, Dr. Mary Anne Chambers, said the organization’s Adopt-A-School programme has had the greatest reach and impact.

“We have come a long way, from 1991 when the first 13 basic schools were adopted. There are now more than 300 basic schools and early childhood institutions sponsored through PACE Canada, but there is still a long way to go. The need is huge,” she said.

Noting that there are approximately 2,800 institutions registered with the Early Childhood Commission in Jamaica, Dr. Chambers implored the audience to consider adopting at least one institution for a dollar a day or C$365 for the year.

“I need you to know that the more than 130,000 children in Jamaica’s basic schools and early childhood institutions have infinite potential. I need you to know that the schools play an extremely important role in helping to provide children with the foundation they need to achieve that potential.  And I need you to know that Adopt-A-School sponsors help to breathe life into the schools they support and, in doing so, help to give the children hope for a brighter future,” said the former Ontario Minister of  Child and Youth Services.

PACE’s Jamaica Liaison Director, Dr. Fred Kennedy, made a presentation to Senator Malahoo Forte of C$365 for the Paul Island Early Childhood Centre, Westmoreland. The Minister, who was born in Westmoreland and attended Mannings High School, revealed that it is the basic school she attended as a young girl.

Award-winning author, Olive Senior, was the winner of this year’s Helen Isobel Sissons Award.

 

By CAROLYN GOULBOURNE-WARREN, JIS Reporter