Project Summary: Ferncourt High School – children with learning disabilities in St. Ann
High school is often a difficult time for teenagers, even more so for students with learning disabilities. As with all high school students with learning disabilities, the students attending the Ferncourt High School in St. Ann were doubly challenged.
Without an appropriate facility to accommodate their special needs, teachers attempted to host special reading sessions in the school library. But that arrangement was troubling to the students as their disabilities were indiscreetly exposed to the larger school population.
With the aim of creating a unique, private and effective environment for these special students, the school contacted the Digicel Foundation and in May 2006 was the recipient of J$600,000 towards the construction and transformation of an old store room into an Audio Visual Centre/ Reading Room. The Foundation’s funding also provided computers, a multi purpose projector and special audio devices, empowering both the teachers and students of Fern Court to excel in the programme.
Digicel Foundation empowers children with learning disabilities in St. AnnPress Release – Tuesday, May30th 2006
Students with learning disabilities at Ferncourt High School in St. Ann, especially those with reading problems, now have a new facility to assist them. The Digicel Foundation has contributed J$ 600,000 towards the construction of an Audio Visual Centre/Reading Room for that educational institution.
During the Handing Over Ceremony for the new facility on Thursday, May 30, Aloun N'Dombet Assamba, Minister of Tourism, Entertainment & Culture and Member of Parliament for the area thanked the Digicel Foundation for its generous contribution to Ferncourt High School and for being such a great supporter of education. She also encouraged students to read, stating, "the only way you are going to get ahead in life is to read, as reading opens up the world and takes you places you may never physically get to."
Major General Robert Neish, Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation, expressing satisfaction that his organization has been able to assist the school in addressing this desperate literacy need. "The school recognized there was a problem and came to us for assistance," says General Neish. "We were happy to help in any way possible and our contribution went towards the transformation of an old storeroom at the school into a reading room for these students with special needs."
The Audio Visual Centre/Reading Room was originally the vision of Ferncourt High School's principal, Veronica Archer, who approached the Digicel Foundation after recognizing that the school needed assistance to address this problem. "At grade 7, I give all the students a reading test and some performed very well but there were also others that were way below average," says Ms. Archer. "The students with learning disabilities were formerly given reading classes in the library but many of them did not want the entire school population to know that they were having problems in this area."
Seeking a solution, Ms. Archer tried to source financing for the establishment of the Audio Visual Centre/Reading Room, specifically for students with special literacy needs. "I thought it would boost their self-esteem and give them more individual attention."
Digicel Foundation made the dream of the Ferncourt High Principal, a reality. The new facility boasts special features that will assist in the learning process for these special students including a multipurpose projector, computers and special audio equipment (earphones for the students and a microphone for the teacher), which will allow the students to learn more effectively.
Since the launch of the non-profit organization, Digicel Foundation in 2004, this exceptional organization has among other things, rebuilt the Lakes Pen Basic School in St. Catherine, allocated $200 million towards Jamaica’s Hurricane Ivan relief effort, provided recreational equipment for Arnett Gardens in Kingston and Farm Heights / Rose Heights in St. James and established a chair in Telecommunications Policy and Management at the University of the West Indies.