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 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
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-seat school bus was donated to Mary Gate of Heaven Catholic church through a TRF Matching Grant, since then MGoH has covered running and maintenance costs. The bus continues to be a key element of the programme, providing transportation to school. 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 for the Learning Centre is that MGoH/FF would acquire premises and meet operational costs, utilities etc.; assistance via the grant would be in the form of equipment such as computers, printers, and making teacher training available.
The Centre would have 2 main purposes at the outset:
1. A study/homework/research facility for GKTS children between the ages of 8 to 18, 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. Provide teacher training to meet needs identified by local teachers, to provide knowledge and skills to increase their capacity to identify and overcome challenges to learning that their students face in their lives and in the classroom.