Thousands of students from 40 primary schools in western Jamaica are to benefit from the I-PLEDGE Programme, launched by GraceKennedy (Western Union), on April 10, at the John Rollins Success Primary School, in St. James.
Under the I-PLEDGE Programme (I Promise to Lend Encouragement to Develop Growth in Education), the schools will be provided with special reading materials, and will be fully computerised by the end of 2013.
The project will cost some $10.5 million, and has received support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and GraceKennedy Foundation.
Addressing the launch, Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy, Don Wehby, said the company’s investment in Jamaica’s future leaders was prompted by its firm belief that education is going to be a major game changer for the country.
“The benefits of reading are tremendous, especially when the love for reading starts from a young age. Have you ever looked into a child’s eyes when he or she can look at a page and bring the words to life? It is like opening a whole new world of possibilities for them. It is the beginning of a solid foundation on which they can build the rest of their lives,” he said.
“The focus on reading is deliberate as we are tired of hearing that Jamaica is not a reading society. We have to change that and it starts with our children. A literate society is critical to shaping a competitive and dynamic workforce and a productive Jamaica. It is not a choice for us. It is something we have to do,” Mr. Wehby emphasized.
He argued that despite the challenges now being faced by the country, citizens should remain optimistic about the future, which largely depends on how today’s young minds are shaped and moulded.
Wife of the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Most Hon. Lady Allen; Mr. Wehby and business leaders from across Montego Bay read to hundreds of students who took part in a Reading Marathon at the John Rollins Success Primary School.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Reporter