USAID grants $67 million for school safety programme

Thursday, May 16, 2019

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THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has allocated approximately $67 million (US$500,000) to support the youth component of the Improved Safety and Security in Schools programme in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

The two-year programme, which began in July 2017 and is slated to end in July 2019, is valued at US$3 million. It is being implemented through the National Education Trust (NET).

Addressing a JIS Think Tank on Tuesday, senior director for children's affairs in the ministry's Youth and Adolescent Policy Division, Hyacinth Blair, said that the partnership aims to transform schools and their immediate surroundings into safe zones.

“Using a multilayered, multi-sectoral approach, which includes schools, communities, parents, and the general public, the programme is intended to reduce the incidence of violence among students and ensure that Jamaica improves and maintains a quality education system that benefits all learners,” she noted.

She pointed out that under the youth component, two youth information centres in Westmoreland and St Catherine were rebranded as youth innovation homework centres in May and June 2018, respectively.

These centres provide a safe, structured, supervised and supportive after-school environment for young people to receive homework assistance and tutorial services. A total of 18,571 youth benefited from the resources at these centres between September and December 2018.

In addition, members of marching bands have been trained and empowered, in keeping with objective four of the programme to provide co-curricular support for uniformed groups and youth clubs, Blair told JIS News.

She said that engagement of marching bands is seen as one avenue to reach students and young people who are out of school.

Since May 2018, members of 25 bands have been exposed to training in leadership and resource mobilisation.

Others have been trained in music theory (one), through the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music, equipping them with the requisite skills to read basic music. Ninety per cent of the participants have been recommended to sit the Royal School of Music Theory Grade One examination in June 2019.

A series of day camps, she added, will be hosted for band members where they will receive training in conflict management skills, interpersonal relations, communications and emotional intelligence, and child rights and protection.

Blair commended the USAID for supporting the initiatives, which seek to engage, empower and provide positive alternatives for the youth, particularly those unattached and are at risk.


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