Japan invests in Ja schools
The quest for knowledge begins with the chalk and blackboard - drawing lines and shapes, expounding concepts, forming sentences, solving riddles and puzzles - the boundless learning process, the flight of imagination and reasoning going beyond the realms of the classroom.
Education is the tool for empowerment, development, and social equality, and it is critical to have a conducive environment for the learning experience to be comfortable, and safe for young minds.
In this quest, The Embassy of Japan in Jamaica, since the beginning of this year, has given US$587,902 (approximately J$75.6 million) to six institutions across the island - Highgate Primary & Junior High School, St Mary; Middleton Primary School, St Thomas; Epworth Primary School, St Ann; Zion Hill Primary School, Manchester; Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning, Kingston; and the Hanover Educational Institute, Hanover - to assist in upgrading facilities and building capacity.
"Japan's Official Development Assistance Policy for Jamaica is focused on helping to address the common challenges of energy, disaster management, and climate change," said Japan's Ambassador to Jamaica, Masanori Nakano.
"Education sector," he added, "in recent years, has been the focus area, as well as other environmental concerns, which are at the forefront of our cooperation and partnership."
Investing in education, according to Nakano is critical for the overall development of the country and its people and these grass-roots interventions have a critical role to play to lay the foundation for sustainable growth across the sectors.
"We are hopeful that these new projects would serve the needs of all teachers and students who would benefit from an improved school environment," Nakano said.
The ambassador informed that the embassy, through the Japan-Jamaica Partnership (J-J Partnership) will continue working with the people and Government of Jamaica especially towards the strengthening of the education sector. Some of the key focus areas involve supporting projects to enhance classrooms, assist in strengthening schools' bus system, and water system improvement.
"This is a blessing for us and will help our institution to build our capacity and give our students avenues to gain effective training," said Angela Haye, executive director and principal of Hanover Educational Institute (HEI).
HEI, a non-profit organisation that caters to young people, focuses on slow learners, dropouts, and underachievers, received US$82,986 for the construction of a training centre.
"The new facility will help HEI to increase its capacity to offer state-of-the-art training to these youngsters, and will go a long way in continued growth and development of our young and marginalised youths, and, ultimately Jamaica," Haye said.
The initiatives of the Embassy of Japan stem from the visit to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Jamaica in September 2015. Abe announced the intention of Japan to enhance its partnership with Jamaica under the three pillars cooperation towards sustainable development for small-island states to overcome their inherent vulnerability; expanding and deepening bonds of exchanges and friendship; and addressing common issues in the international community.
"Towards that end," Nakano said. "The embassy has been steadfastly following up the discussion of our Heads of Government arising from different forums.
"The embassy's cooperation projects are direct outcomes from the ongoing consultations we have been having with our colleagues in the Jamaican Government to formulate projects first and foremost for the education sector," he said, adding that other areas include energy, disaster management, and climate change and environment sectors.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world, once said Nelson Mandela on this rock, the power of that chalk to shape the young minds, which, one day, will rule and change the world, has found a formidable partner in that change.