ST. STEVENS BASIC SCHOOL
COLES BASIC SCHOOL
CRESCENT BASIC SCHOOL
MAXFIELD PARK HOME BASIC SCHOOL
In 1999, JAMPACT adopted five basic schools (early childhood institutions) - Coles, Crescent Road, Maxfield Park, St. Steven's, and Mt. Olive (now closed due to low school enrolment and community violence) - through our Adopt-A-School program. Since its inception over 10 years ago, the focus of the adopt-a-school program involves material support to the schools in the form of cash donations for facility renovation and the purchase of furniture; in-kind donation of school supplies; annual holiday treats with the schools, etc.
In 2008, in an effort to create a program plan with measureable outcomes and impact the schools in a more sustainable manner, the organization began a comprehensive review of the program. This process commenced with an extensive review and assessment of the schools to identify any critical needs.
One of the most important program goals which came out of the needs assessment, is the need to assist our adopted schools in successfully registering with the Ministry of Education - a deficiency which is currently being experienced by over 3,000 early childhood institutions in Jamaica. Some of the requirements for registration include meeting certain basic teaching certification, health and safety standards. (Link to Early Childhood Commission) Failure to meet these standards, may result in a school being closed, thereby leaving already underserved communities with one less vital institution. The assistance needed to meet the Ministry standards varies from school to school. In some instances, schools need financial subsidies to assist in teacher training and certification; in other instances schools need assistance with renovating school facilities, purchasing additional equipment and supplies etc.
Although our immediate focus is to help our adopted basic schools/early childhood institutions, and eventually others, meet the Ministry's registration standards, JAMPACT's long term vision is to develop "model schools" in Jamaica.
The Model School
Below are a number of criteria which ideally a model school should possess. JAMPACT's goal has been and continues to be ensuring that each criteria (some of which have already been achieved) is met with respect to each of its adopted schools and to thereby make our schools "model schools" that other organizations would seek to emulate when they take on the responsibility of adopting schools.
By achieving these objectives, we hope to positively impact, not only the approximately 450 students that attend the schools, but also the communities within which these schools exist. Additionally, JAMPACT seeks to involve parents and community residents in each initiative/project in order to create a sense of ownership among such individuals and thereby ensure the long-term sustainability of our projects.
A model basic school should have a solid infrastructure. The building should be a concrete structure that is well lit and well painted in bight student friendly colors. The building should be well maintained and uphold the highest standards of cleanliness. Murals should be present depicting heroes/heroines or situations conducive to the students' social and emotional development.
- Infrastructure / Capital Expenditure
An adequate amount of supplies should always be on hand for teachers and students to utilize. It is important, however, that teachers have a safe and secure place to house the supplies.
- Student Supplies and Teacher Materials
The ideal basic school would offer a free breakfast and lunch program with a very nutritional menu. JAMPACT should contact a nutritionist to put together a feeding program that will provide vital nutrients utilizing foods that are low in cost.
- Nutrition / School Feeding Program
The ideal basic school should have a computer lab that provides access to the Internet. The ideal student to computer ratio should be no more than 3:1 in the lab.
Teachers must be well qualified and motivated. They must also receive ongoing professional development through organizations like the JTA. JAMPACT plays a role in this process by providing financial assistance to teachers seeking necessary and additional certification.
As JAMPACT continues its drive to provide its schools with the resources necessary for them to become successful institutions, the sustainability of JAMPACT's efforts is paramount in our planning efforts. JAMPACT has made a concerted effort to work with the school administrators including principals and active school board members, other stakeholders such as the parents and residents of the community in which the schools are located to ensure their active participation every step of the way. We have also engaged school officials in consistent dialogue to elicit their input and feedback, as we attempt to construct models for the sustainable development of the schools.
JAMPACT seeks to not merely be a provider of fund, but also to be a partner in the planning and creative process in terms of formulating the vision and the academic programs for the schools. For example, one initiative which is currently under consideration is whether or not the creation of a school garden could be incorporated into the lesson plans, which would not just provide the students with a learning opportunity but also be a source of revenue if produce can be successfully harvested for sale. If that initiative ultimately proved to be successful, then JAMPACT would consider replicating that program in its other schools.
While much work remains to be done, JAMPACT's adopt-a-school program is one of the signature programs which define our beloved organization. Through operation of this program we have and continue to provide the Jamaican Diaspora with a solid example of how to effectively construct and manage a sustainable project on the ground in Jamaica. Our hope and plan is to continue expanding these efforts and further enhance our credentials so that we are able to approach large donor-agencies with a proven track record. Our ability to access these additional sources of funding will in turn help us to expand the scope and size of our charitable initiatives ensuring that all our basic schools achieve their greatest potential and by extension magnify the impact that we are making with our schools and Jamaica.