Kingston, Jamaica—Wednesday, March 22, 2017: The Digicel Foundation has adopted five infant schools in rural Jamaica and has outlined plans to give them all the support they need to achieve full certification from the Early Childhood Commission (ECC).
This certification process requires early childhood institutions (ECIs) to fulfil the criteria set under the ECC’s standards, which relate to health and safety (public health and fire safety reports and police records); and educational quality, including teacher qualification certificates. To be fully certified, schools must also undergo an extensive inspection activity.
The Digicel Foundation’s action comes in response to the call by the Hon. Floyd Green, State Minister in the Ministry of Education, for non-governmental organisations adopt a school or cluster of schools and help them to achieve their certification.
“Too many students are entering primary school without the basic skills that allow for their full participation and academic advancement,” said Dane Richardson, CEO of the Digicel Foundation. “In fact, findings from the joint Digicel Foundation and United States Agency for International Development Literacy project revealed that many students entering Grade One were not ready to learn to read. For us, this is rather alarming so we want to do what we can and play a part to help fix this.”
Citing additional findings from the Digicel Foundation/USAID Literacy Project, Richardson noted that around 92% of students in the sample lacked skills like knowledge of the alphabet, letter sounds and the ability to identify simple words. The students in the sample population were found to be mainly from schools in the rural communities of Jamaica.
“The data we gathered from the project forced us to start re-thinking our efforts towards ensuring that the important markers in the education sector are achieved,” Richardson added. “That’s why we’re focusing on starting with the schools we’ve selected, which are all located in rural Jamaica.”
The schools are New Works Primary and Infant School in Westmoreland, Upper Rock Spring All Age and Infant School in Hanover, Pratville Infant Department in Manchester, Carisbrook Infant Department in St. Elizabeth and Cassava River Primary and Infant Department in St. Catherine.
The Early Childhood Commission, which has regulatory responsibility for all early childhood institutions, will now work closely with the Foundation to ensure these schools meet all the necessary standards.
Karlene Degrasse-Deslandes, Executive Director of the ECC, said, “We are happy to welcome yet another partner on this journey to improve our early childhood sector and guarantee a better learning environment for our children. The Commission is convinced that this level of commitment from Digicel Foundation will encourage other stakeholders in the private sector to provide support needed to raise the standard of education.”
Since 2009, Digicel Foundation has been a committed partner in education, working with 231 primary schools across the island to improve literacy between Grades One and Three. To date, over 100,000 students have been impacted and over 250 teachers trained.