JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Majesty Gardens resident Chisena Campbell is a happy and proud woman.
  • At age 38, the single mother of two has finally attained the academic qualification which eluded her 20 years ago, when she was in high school.
  • “My dream is to go to college and work my way up to the PhD level, and when the opportunity came my way to do these subjects I grabbed it. Even when I did not have any lunch I still went, because I told myself I am on a mission. Right now I am working, and I know if I did not get those subjects, I would not get the job,” she recalls.

Majesty Gardens resident Chisena Campbell is a happy and proud woman.

At age 38, the single mother of two has finally attained the academic qualification which eluded her 20 years ago, when she was in high school.

She is now in a good job and is able to take care of her family, thanks to the Majesty Gardens Community Education Development (MGCED) programme.

The 24-month long course, which started in 2013, involved collaboration among the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFFL) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) through its Community Renewal Programme (CRP).

Under the initiative, some 150 adult learners and unattached youths, aged 18 to 60, benefited from training aimed at building their literacy and numeracy skills.

Based on an assessment of their competences, some of the learners were filtered into the JFLL’s High School Diploma Equivalency (HSDE), which came on stream in 2014.

The HSDE is designed to equip participants with the necessary academic qualifications and certification to enhance their marketability and thereby position them to access quality jobs.

The learners were given the opportunity to sit Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations to gain academic qualifications to enhance their job prospects.

Miss Campbell tells JIS News that the MGCED provided her with a “second chance to graduate high school”.

At the time of the intervention she was without a job, and because she did not have passes in Mathematics and English, it meant that her prospects for gainful employment were slim.

“CSJP assisted me with going to classes. Under normal circumstances, I would pay to do the classes and find bus fare, and I would also have to pay for the subjects. They also assisted with getting the material to do the work. All I had to do was show up,” she shares with JIS News.

Though subjects like Biology proved challenging and there were days when she did not have lunch, Miss Campbell says those obstacles did not prevent her from pushing ahead.

“My dream is to go to college and work my way up to the PhD level, and when the opportunity came my way to do these subjects I grabbed it. Even when I did not have any lunch I still went, because I told myself I am on a mission. Right now I am working, and I know if I did not get those subjects, I would not get the job,” she recalls.

With perseverance, Miss Campbell received passes in all five CSEC examinations that she sat – Mathematics, English Language, Human and Social Biology, Social Studies, and Electronic Document Preparation and Management (EDPM).

She is now employed as a community facilitator as part of the Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPS) Ready Board project to regularise electricity in Majesty Gardens.

Twenty-five-year-old Philipe McFarlane is also glad for the opportunity to add to the subjects he has already attained in high school.

“I feel really great. I have started the journey and I have made some accomplishments that I am proud of. A lot of people needed help in going back to school and to find a path, and CSJP provided that for us,” he says.

In addition to the five subjects he had prior to joining the programme, Mr. McFarlane attained three other subjects – Mathematics, English Language and EDPM.

He also received on-the-job training, and with the help of the CSJP’s scholarship programme, he was able to enrol in the Management Information Studies programme at Excelsior Community College.

“I did not want to stop at just the job experience, because I know that I am a talented person… . I wanted to continue studying before working. I am going to school, studying hard and keeping myself motivated with the assurance of my family and friends,” says the young man, who wants to become an information technology specialist.

Miss Campbell and Mr. McFarlane, along with 17 other persons, recently graduated from the HSDEP with passes in several CSEC subjects.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green, hailed the graduates as a source of hope and inspiration.

“The graduands stand here today as a testament that you should never give up on yourself and you must never give up on your dream. Share your stories in your communities so that you can inspire others to come along on your journey,” he urges.

Miss Campbell is encouraging persons who want continue their education to never give up on their dream.

“Go after your dreams. They do not come true when you are sleeping, but when you are awake. Get up and do the work, and while it may seem like you cannot accomplish anything, it is only if you feel that way,” she says.

CSJP supports this and similar interventions through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank, UK Department for International Development, and Global Affairs Canada.