Wed | Mar 22, 2017

Education Matters | Career Advancement Programme to introduce life skills in 20 schools

Published:Sunday | March 19, 2017 | 3:00 AM
Passport to Success master trainer Diego Mendez (standing) is part of the International Youth Foundation Team who guided counsellors and teachers from 20 schools in life skills training at a four-day workshop hosted by the Ministry of Education in Kingston last month. From left are Beverly Kean-Jones, guidance counsellor at the Cross Keys High School; Pauline Ellison Jackson, guidance counsellor and personal and career development officer at the Western Hospitality Institute; Ann Lewis, guidance counsellor, Tivoli Gardens High School; and Kirk Morris, guidance counsellor, Portmore Community College.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information has partnered with the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE), with support from the British High Commission, to begin a pilot life skills training programme in Jamaica's school system. Students in 20 schools across the island are being targeted.

As part of the preparations to introduce the programme, a four-day 'trainer of trainers' workshop for 25 guidance counsellors and teachers was held last month in Kingston under the IYF's Passport to Success programme.

The IYF is a US-based non-profit organisation that seeks to build worldwide multi-sector partnerships to empower young people to be healthy, productive, and engaged citizens. According to IYF executive vice-president, business development, Peter Shiras, the Passport to Success programme features a curriculum that has been developed and refined over more than a decade and which has already benefited over 80,000 young people in 30 countries, who have completed the curriculum.

"We target vulnerable youth 14 to 24 years old," he explained. "They include those in school, but at risk of dropping out, as well as those out of school, out of work, or working in dangerous situations. The range of critical skills taught includes self-confidence, teamwork, communication, and interpersonal skills, problem solving, and decision making. These have been shown to be much needed and highly valuable, not only to help youngsters complete their education, but to provide them with the soft skills needed for entry-level employment."

Dr Grace McLean, chief education officer with the Ministry of Education, said that the guidance counsellors, coaches, and other selected teachers from across the island will be taking the programme's experiential, student-centred methodology to students enrolled in the Ministry's Career Advancement Programme (CAP).

"These students represent the next generation of Jamaica's labour force," she said, "Reaching them with soft skills which encourage completing education, facilitating employment readiness, and which strengthen self-confidence will truly be a wonderful contribution to nation building."

 

OPTIMISTIC ABOUT BENEFITS

 

She continued: "Jamaica, like so many other countries worldwide, faces a serious challenge in preparing young people for life, with the increasingly complex, competitive, and often threatening world that faces them. Our at-risk youth face especially stiff odds. We are, therefore, very optimistic about the benefits that Passport to Success has already brought to youngsters in other countries, and we look forward to rolling it out to schools across Jamaica once it has been successfully piloted here."

Alicia Glasgow Gentles, executive director of YUTE, said that her organisation and its partners were particularly appreciative of the support of the British High Commission for the funding provided to implement the pilot. The high commission is assisting the programme to the tune of £10,000. The 18-month programme covers training of trainers, 12 months of implementation of the curriculum in schools, and ongoing support from YUTE coaches.

The IYF Passport to Success programme will be piloted through the CAP in 10 parishes. The schools are Penwood High, St Anne's High, Edith Dalton James High, Trench Town Polytechnic Institute, Excelsior Community College, Tivoli Gardens High, Denham Town High, the College of Agriculture, Science & Education, Portmore Community College, Cumberland High, Kellits High, Maggoty High, Cross Keys High, Brown's Town High, Holland High, Steer Town Academy, Green Pond High, Knockalva High, St James High, and the Western Hospitality Institute.

- Article courtesy of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.