Since December 2016, approximately 200 children in vulnerable urban communities, have been receiving assistance in their last lap efforts to prepare for the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). This, as JPS has been instrumental in providing free extra lessons for children in the communities of: McGregor Gardens, Majesty Gardens and Payne Land in Kingston; Ellerslie Gardens and Tawes Meadows in St Catherine; and Russia in Westmoreland. The programme, which has engaged trained teachers from the community, is being undertaken at a cost of $3.29M.
JPS has been working in these five communities to assist customers to get regularized electricity service, through its Community Renewal Programme. The Company has also been seeking to empower residents, with a view to improving their quality of life. The GSAT assistance, is one in a series of such efforts.
JPS Programme Manager in the Customer Service & Communications Division, Marilyn McDonald, noted “JPS has worked closely with these communities over the last year and we have developed a relationship with the community members. We know that some residents are experiencing difficulties in giving the children the extra support that they need, so we felt it was important for us to reach out and help. Investing in our children and their education is important to us. We want to see them maximize their potential.”
The programme, is one component of the Youth Education Recreation (YER) initiative, developed by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF). YER is a youth development programme that has been in operation for several years giving support to many vulnerable communities through partnership with the Community Development Commission (CDC).
The response to the programme has been tremendous. Nardreia Wright, a Community Development Commission Facilitator in the Payne Land community notes that the children are very eager to learn. She stated “every Saturday we see the numbers growing. The children are excited to come and learn. We have even added classes for grades 4 and 5,” she continued.
Students and teachers alike are appreciative of the programme. Ajay Johnson, a student at the Seaward Primary School is excited to be receiving the extra help, especially with mathematics. “I don’t really like maths. I prefer English, I like to write stories but I am getting better at maths now” he stated. Ajay, like a number of the other students in the programme, has challenges with some subject areas, but he is now benefitting from the individualized attention that is offered to students.
Kristinna Bryan, a Grade Six teacher at the St. Judes Primary School in Kingston, shared “…the need is great within the community. All the students are not at the same level and so it is a bit challenging, but they show promise.” All the teachers affiliated with the programme, are trained professionals who live in the participating communities. They are encouraged by the programme, noting that it is also a needed boost to students’ morale before the exam.
The students in the programme attend various schools which include: Seaward Primary and Junior High, Maxfield Park Primary, Dupont Primary, Denham Town Primary, Crescent Primary, Horizon Park Primary, Rolling Town Primary, Mountain View Primary, Unity Primary and Savanna-la-mar Primary School.