Programme to Improve Literacy Skills of at Risk Young Men in Rose Town Launched


A programme aimed at improving the literacy skills of at risk young men in the inner-city community of Rose Town, South St. Andrew, was officially launched yesterday (February 15), at the Rose Town Community Centre in Kingston.
The initiative, dubbed the ‘Learning for Life Programme’, specifically targets males between 13 and 25 years of age, who are either the victims of crime or the perpetrators of violence. It is a collaborative effort among the Violence Prevention Alliance, the Ministry of Health’s Healthy Lifestyle Project and Cable and Wireless Jamaica Limited. Speaking at the launch, Dr. Elizabeth Ward of the Violence Prevention Alliance explained that the programme sought to improve the literacy skills and enhance the learning abilities of the youth, while equipping them with marketable skills, an improved knowledge base and positive healthy attitudes.
She further noted that the programme, which is in operation in established computer centres in violence prone communities in Kingston and the Flankers community of St. James, has seen “an overwhelming response from the communities. The enthusiasm and zest shown so far is remarkable”.
Meanwhile, Ann Astwood, Manager of Cable and Wireless Foundation, commended the organizers of the programme, noting that the initiative would not only improve the literacy level of participants, but would also assist in creating a highly literate, well educated and competent workforce.
“Our vision for the future is one in which Jamaicans are highly literate, well educated and competent. We really want to commend the Healthy Lifestyle Division in the Ministry of Health and the Violence Prevention Alliance for setting up this programme, and for targeting segments of our population that are perhaps most at risk, our inner-city men,” she said.
Miss Astwood encouraged members of the community to take full advantage of the opportunities being provided through the Learning for Life Programme. “Let us face it, if you cannot read, you are at a distinct disadvantage,” she said.
Michael Black, a participant, said the programme should help to change the Rose Town community. “The programme is a saviour come to help us in the community, because education is a major problem for this community. This programme really comes to revolutionize (the community), because it is a computer generated programme. While people are learning to read they are also learning to use the computer; we see where this will help us tremendously,” he said.
Participants of the programme will learn to read through the use of an interactive software programme. The software is highly rated by teachers both in the United States, Canada and Europe.
The Learning for Life programme has a three-pronged approach – the computerized reading aspect of the programme; a life skill aspect under the Healthy Lifestyle Programme, with an exposure and training in certain key areas, which include violence prevention, leadership, self esteem building and physical activity and; entrepreneurial training, job assessment and placement, which merge into the HEART Trust/NTA programme.
The ceremony was chaired by Donna Parchment, Executive Director of the Dispute Resolution Foundation.

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