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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has committed some $36 million to enhance the operations of the Jamaica Archives and Records Department (JARD).

Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, who made the announcement at the JARD’s Spanish Town offices on Thursday, June 27, said the funds will enable the agency to digitise its operations and modernise its processes.

“Much of our archives are already on film, and I must, on behalf of the Government, thank UNESCO for its assistance to JARD in the thrust to digitise our archives,” the Minister informed.

Senator Falconer disclosed that additional funding will be available “in short order” to further assist with the digitisation process.

“I am told that that money should be forthcoming in the first half of the next year. This will assist us in making this important repository of knowledge more widely accessible by just the click of a mouse. As a Government, we are not only fully committed to strengthening the important work of recording and preserving our history, but we are committed to making this powerful information more accessible to our people anywhere in the world,” she stated.

[RELATED: Information Minister Highlights Importance of Historical Data]

The Information Minister was speaking at the unveiling of two Plaques of Inscription, which UNESCO has awarded for three outstanding historical collections held by the JARD, that have been incorporated in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

The collections: ‘Protector of Immigrants’, ‘Registry of Slaves’, and ‘Silver Men of the Panama Canal’, respectively document Jamaica’s heritage during the period of slavery, Asiatic indentured immigration, and involvement in the construction of the Panama Canal.

JARD, which falls under Senator Falconer’s purview in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), is the sole government entity mandated to preserve Jamaica’s cultural and documentary heritage for posterity.

Its main purpose is to preserve records of government, which are documented on paper and in electronic and audio/visual formats.

Contact: Douglas McIntosh