JSIF funding $40 million project to improve numeracy and literacy in schools

Assistant Deputy Chief Education Officer, Dr. Clover Hamilton-Flowers (centre), accepts a book from Managing Director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Omar Sweeney (second right), at the handover of equipment to 17 learning institutions benefiting from a $40-million literacy and numeracy project. Sharing the moment (from left) are Principal of Roehampton Primary School, Dane Julius; Numeracy and Literacy Specialist at the North Street Primary School, Jodi-Ann McKoy; and Bindley Sangster, Senior Advisor to Minister without portfolio Mike Henry. (Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson)

The teaching of numeracy and literacy is to be advanced in several schools across the island, following a $40-million project sponsored by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).

With funds provided under the Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP), supported by a loan from the World Bank, the project seeks to improve educational outcomes and the physical environment of 17 targeted schools, covering over 3,500 students.

In the words of a programme participant

Numeracy and Literacy Specialist at the St. Ann-based Steer Town Primary and Infant School, Nelesia McLean, was among 51 teachers who had their skills upgraded during a series of workshops.

Speaking with the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), McLean noted that the initiative empowered the teachers to focus on the backgrounds of all students, and to help in the creation of “learning environments where all students feel valued and have equal access to learn.”

McLean added the participants’ teaching skills have been improved, which should positively impact the academic performance of their students.

“My awareness has been raised considerably, and I am now ready more than ever to take it to my students. The training helped us as teachers to be more tolerant when dealing with diverse needs of their students,” she explained.

Numeracy and Literacy Specialist at the St. Ann-based Steer Town Primary and Infant School, Nelesia McLean (Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson)

McLean, a passionate educator, was present at the recent handover of teaching materials, including books and electronic gadgets, to the 17 learning institutions that are benefiting from the current phase of the project, at JSIF’s Oxford Road offices in Kingston.

She told the JIS that the teaching equipment came at the “right time”, as this will assist students to learn in “many different ways”.

“I am grateful for the intervention, and I intend to empower all my colleagues. I also want to extend my gratitude to JSIF. These techniques will help me greatly,” McLean further remarked.

Scope of the current phase of JSIF programme

In 2017, JSIF approved the Youth and Recreation Cycle 3 Project, to provide support to education and recreational activities within schools, with the aim of improving academic performance and general youth development.

The numeracy and literacy component aims to support initiatives that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information has developed and implemented.

The beneficiary schools are in St. James, Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, and St. Ann.

Support to the schools includes the establishment of literacy and numeracy resource rooms, provision of technical training for teachers, literacy and numeracy books, teaching aids, and other educational resources.

The project is in support of the Government’s thrust for world-class education and training to its citizens, as outlined in the Vision 2030 document, by strengthening the capacity of schools to deliver quality education and support services of the highest quality.

For his part, Principal of the St. James-based Bickersteth Primary and Infant School, Robert Gordon, posited that teachers who participated in the recent training have “benefited immensely”.

Principal of Bickersteth Primary and Infant School in St. James Robert Gordon (Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson)

“The teaching materials are some of the tools that we need to transform education in this student-centered era. In the shortest possible time, we will see the benefits of using these teaching aids,” he asserted.

Not just training and equipment, all 17 schools being rehabilitated

Managing Director of JSIF Omar Sweeney, explained that schools under the project are being rehabilitated – with classrooms being refurbished and equipped.

“New skills are being added, and we are sending a signal that this is the way we want to approach the education of our children,” he said.

Other schools involved in the project are: Lethe All-Age, Roehampton Primary, Granville All-Age, Barrett Town All-Age, St. Albans Primary, St. Anne’s Primary, Chetolah Park Primary, North Street Primary, Trench Town Primary, Boy’s Town All-Age, Maxfield Park Primary, Greenwich Town All-Age, ElthamPrimary, Treadlight Primary, and York Town Primary.