The consequences of missing out on education are profound and sadly all too visible to organisations, such as the Rotary Club of Negril, Franciscan Friars and Mary Gate of Heaven Catholic Church, involved in service in the Negril Community.
For many years these organisations have supported needy families to ensure their children can afford to be in school every day; most notably through a programme called Get Kids to School (GKTS), beginning its 6th year of operation. In 2015/16 GKTS assisted 200 (I had some parish kids I assisted) children, in early childhood and primary education through to High School.
GKTS is an intervention designed to avoid the consequences of missed education, through this application we seek to increase the programme's capacity. Through involvement in the community and working with schools, we seek to develop 2 further, complementary elements of this application:
• Training for teachers
• A Learning Centre for children
Get Kids to School
The bulk of operational funding is provided by the Franciscan Friars of Western Canada; for the past 5 years Rotary Negril has also contributed financially, and its member's time and efforts help to sustain the programme. In addition, MGH and Franciscan benefactors have supported the programme.
In 2012, with RC Grapevine as international partners, a new 15 seater school bus was donated to Mary Gate of Heaven Catholic church through a TRF Matching Grant, since then MGH has covered running and maintenance costs. The bus continues to be a key element of the programme, providing transportation to one school in particular, however in 2012 the programme supported around 35 children, last year the number had risen to120. Therefore, the number of children using the bus has made it necessary to make 2 runs each morning and afternoon, a hugely inefficient and costly effort which is probably unsustainable. Through this application we hope to be able to replace the present bus with a larger vehicle, namely a Toyota Coaster, which would become the property of MGH to be operated and maintained by the church.
Areas identified as training needs:
• Conflict resolution
• Information technology
• Teaching 2nd language (Spanish)
• Assistance with teaching numeracy & literacy
The "how" is being developed. We will involve teacher exchanges involving colleges and/or secondary schools and/or perhaps a Vocational Training Team of teachers. There are also resources in Negril to provide instruction in conflict resolution and there is also the possibility to receive two
lay-Franciscan volunteers for a 2-year stints. They may fit nicely into these projects which basically build on the premise of getting the children to school and having teachers better suited to educate them in subjects and skills that will produce significant outcomes in terms of productive employment and the ability to support themselves and their families.
The concept is that MGH would acquire premises and meet operational costs, utilities etc., assistance via the grant would be in the form of equipment such as computers, printers, etc. Possibly training.
The centre would have 2 main purposes at the outset:
1. A study/homework/research facility for GKTS children who simply do not have access to a good learning environment at home. Many homes in Jamaica do not have a computer, some areas of the community do not have a reliable electricity supply and in some cases children just do not have the space for completing homework. It would be a supervised facility (Franciscan) offering coaching and may include structured teaching.
2. To provide an opportunity to young people who have dropped out/ been put out of the educational system for one reason or another. Our organisations are only too aware of the numbers of young men and women (some of school age) who, because of a lack of education and low social skills, are unemployable, a low academic achievement makes them ineligible for Government vocational training schemes. They are at high risk of falling into crime. The idea is to raise academic skills (particularly literacy & numeracy) and provide young people with social skills and the motivation to improve their lives. The aim would be to:
• make these young people employable; and/or,
• qualified and motivated to enter a Government vocational training programme
Volunteers, including Rotarians, may have a part to play in both aspects of the Learning Centre