Groups and individuals from all over the world are looking at ways of assisting with the improvement of Jamaica’s education system. Not the least of these are students at the London School of Economics (LSE).
Called “Educate the Children Fund International”, this team of students was established in 1986 when four LSE students got together and decided to assist with the education of children in schools in need. The original four were Jamaicans – Joe Issa and Lassell Hylton; Barbadian – Michelle Goddard and British born Jamaican – Valerie Small.
The Fund was officially launched in January 1987 by Jamaica’s previous Deputy High Commissioner to the UK, Mr Dale Anderson. With the aim of assisting a different country each year, Jamaica was the first to benefit. They say this was “for a variety of reasons, including the fact that 1987 was the 25th anniversary of Independence and there was a recognizable school book programme with aims similar to our own through which we could channel funds.”
That year their major fund-raising event was a raffle from which they raised £3,000 to purchase books for Jamaica. Prizes for the raffle were donated by several companies in the UK and Jamaica.
Jamaica was again on the Fund’s list of priorities in 1988 when Hurricane Gilbert wreaked havoc on the island. An assortment of school supplies were handed over by Joe Issa, on behalf of the LSE students to Jamaica’s State Minister for Education, Burchell Whiteman.
The ceremony took place in the Ministry’s conference room at the end of last year in the presence of teachers of the beneficiary schools: Happy Grove High at Hector’s River, Portland; Seaforth High in St. Thomas; Trinityville also in St. Thomas; and a basic school.
Last year’s Hurricane Hugo was the clarion call for assistance elsewhere. Hugo did sever damage in the Eastern Caribbean. Again companies, organisations and people from all walks of life rallied round and the students collected £10,000 in funds alone.
Now, with the support for the Fund growing and including students from all over the world, the team is setting up Chapters throughout the UK. Places from which they will operate include Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Swindon.
Their aims will continue to be:
*Identify and support projects initiated by local communities for betterment of those eighteen years and under
*Promote Chapters internationally as appropriate mechanisms through which emergency and long-term responses might be made.
*Establish an annual Camp International which will enable global participation in culture and practice exchanges between children and those with interests in the issue of development.
*Formulate and develop a dictionary programme to enhance indigenous education.
*Establish a scholarship fund to facilitate access to secondary and further education.
Source: The Gleaner