Fri | Apr 19, 2019

A year in retrospect ...

Published:Sunday | December 31, 2017 | 12:53 AMAmitabh Sharma
From left: JICA volunteers Takumi Shimizu, Kenichi Mikami and Shima Sato.
Yutaro Furuta, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteer explains a concept to a student at Port Antonio Primary School, Portland.
Logos Hope in Kingston, Jamaica.
Robot made by the robotics team from Jamaica at the world's first International Robot Olympics for high school students.
Christopher Jones says he loves what he does and shows his award and his trainer's certificate.
A job well done! students of the Shirley Castle Primary School with (back row - from left) Stephen Crimarco, Teppei Sato, Francine Constantine, and Aika Nakakomi (right).
French singer, songwriter David Cairol in a discussion with students of St George's College, during a working conducted him recently.
Chilean journalist and author Marcello Simonetti with brothers of Missionaries of the Poor.


Education — it’s a life long journey, every day we live, we learn, we evolve — both in the realms of the classroom and critically al fresco — for knowledge is there for us to grasp.  Arts and Education, in 2017, travelled across the globe, highlighting best practices, experiences, achievements and innovations.

Back home, we focused on some off the beaten path careers, trends in education. We thank you, our readers and contributors, for making the journey a memorable one. We highlight some of the top stories from 2017.

The quest continues in 2018 ...


The World Is A Classroom — Japanese Volunteers Plant Seeds For Jamaican Students To Reap Rewards

Published: January 8, 2017

It is a labour of love, expanding the horizons of learning, taking the flight of imagination beyond the confines of the four walls, yet being on the terra firma much.

Three young volunteers of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) — Takumi Shimizu, Kenichi Mikami and Shima Sato — went about encouraging students and youngsters to grow food and practise farming.

“I wanted them (the students) to realise the importance of growing their own food and wanted them to embrace farming,” said Sato, who worked with Manchester 4H Clubs, and worked with schools across the parish to encourage students embrace farming practices.

“I want them not be dependent on anyone for food,” she added.

These three young volunteers said that they found it surprising that students in Jamaica did not know about agriculture.

Farming and agriculture practices are taught in schools across Japan, working in the school gardens — encouraging them to grow what they eat and embrace sustainable living from an early age.


Mathemagic! — Calculation Time Puts Fun In Numbers, Helps Boost Numeracy

Published: February 19, 2017 

Hands of a group of 20-odd grade 1 students of Port Antonio Primary School went up in unison. Everyone was eager to get a chance to be called by their teacher. No calls to go for the next school outing or a picnic, nor is it free period. These students are in a mathematics class.

This is the changing face of how a mundane, oft-intimidating world of numbers is being taught in 65 primary schools across Jamaica; the fundamental being to get the students to appreciate the subject and not see it as a chore they feel compelled to shy away from.

The children break into a song, their teacher, Novelette Graham, leading the chorus, in animated gesticulations — encouraging them to hug themselves for a job well done — it's Calculation Time folks.


Glenmuir Students Get A Taste Of History In DC

Published: June 11, 2017

Life unfolds in many manifestations, it is full of joy, excitement, and sometimes it has pleasant surprises in store. Last month, a group of teachers and students from Glenmuir High School in Clarendon got a chance to retrace the steps of history in Washington DC.

Like the blank pages of time, each chapter leading to this Cultural Enrichment Tour has a story to tell that of vision, oodles of faith, tons of blessings, and, of course, as The Beatles, a certain quartet from across the Atlantic once said, " ... with a little help from our friends."

"It was a profound experience," said Moya Johnson, senior teacher in the Department of History, Glenmuir High School. "Most of the students who went on this tour are from the grassroots, and come from humble backgrounds."

Johnson, who along with her colleagues conceptualised this initiative, said that of the six students, five were travelling overseas for the first time.


Logos Hope Spreads Messages Of Harmony And Knowledge

Published: June 18, 2017

Hope — it is a very powerful word, for those who believe in it, live by it, and as it is said, it makes the world go around.

Armed with a shipload of books, Logos Hope docked in Kingston. Along with it came a crew of 400 international volunteers, bringing with them their vision and purpose — that of knowledge, help, and hope to the people of the world.

"We want to share knowledge, help and hope with the people of the world," said Annika Lee, media relations officer, Logos Hope. "Knowledge is, of course, through the book fair, where we sell over 5,000 different titles of books."


Jamaica Turns 55 — Celebrating The History Of A Nation

Published: August 6, 2017

Freedom — this word is as powerful as the emotions and feelings it exudes, and for a nation, when the day dawns, a fresh breath of air, that of new hopes, dreams and the will to make those dreams come to reality. Jamaica in 1962 was a nation ready to be on the move, her people liberated, rejoicing and raring to take on the world.

Fifty five years later, the country has come a long way, and it has, along the way had its triumphs and gone through its fair share of tribulations. In every sphere — from the sciences to the arts, sports to culture, the contribution by its citizens has made this little rock on the face of the earth stands tall.

Jamaica can be summed in one phrase — Wi likkle but wi tallawah!!


Jamaican Students On Historic Robotics Feat

Published: August 20, 2017

It was long ago in a silver screen near us when R2-D2, C-3PO, or more recently BB8, awed and mesmerised us with their ability to assist humans and other living species in galaxy light years away. These alphanumeric science fictional droids and technologies from the future are become as real as humanity's quest to find life on Mars.


In Jamaica, a group of students are translating their interest in the sciences into creating functional pieces of automated machinery robotics is slowly spiking interest of students. A group of them made their mark at the world's first International Robot Olympics for High School Students in Alexandria, Virginia.

"This was a historical feat," said Lesleyann Samuel, president of Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations (USA) Inc (UJAA). "To our knowledge, this is the first time that Jamaica has been represented in an international robotics competition."


Celebration Of Cross Cultural Experiences

Published: September 24, 2017

The world is a global village, it is said, and what better way to explore this village than to experience first-hand the land, culture, tastes, sounds that are diverse, intriguing. Since 2000, more than 350 Jamaicans can share their testimonials of living this experience.

Recently, a group converged to celebrate the Jamaica JET Alumni Association (JJETAA) 15th anniversary at the residence of Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica Masanori Nakano.

It was a celebration of their experiences as teachers in Japan under the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) programme and de facto ambassadors of their country.


To Russia, With Love - Young Jamaican Heads To Sochi For World Youth Festival

Published: October 8, 2017

Most Jamaicans would remember, and perhaps swear by Lada, the no-frills, no-nonsense car from the erstwhile USSR. That was in the 80s — a time and era that seems as far distant as that icon on four wheels.

The world has changed in three decades — from lifestyles to priorities, but some fundamentals hold their place as they have as far as mankind can reminisce — that of human bonding.

A young Jamaican has got an opportunity of a lifetime to connect with over 20,000 youth from 150 countries, to attend World Festival for Youth and Students in Sochi — and the messages she is carrying from this Rock is splashed in expressions of colours.


Being A Butler - More Than Meets The Eye

Published: October 22, 2017

What do Iron Man and Batman have in common? Yes, we know they are superheroes in their own right, but in their 'normal' persona, the lives of Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne would be in disarray if Jarvis and Alfred Pennyworth weren't ensuring that all back-end work was taken care of.

Critical lifelines of these superheroes — Jarvis, who has since evolved from a human to artificial intelligence, augmented reality avatar J.A.R.V.I.S., while Pennyworth exudes the traditional persona — butlers are, in essence, superheroes. they don't wear the cape though.

Away from the augmented reality, Christopher Jones grew up idolising Geoffrey, the Banks family's cynical, sarcastic butler from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.


The Green Thumb — Shirley Castle Primary Students Plant Seeds Of Self-Reliance

Published: October 29, 2017

A group of students lined up, glitter in their eyes, itching to move forward and be the first ones to get in the front. This was not a line to grab their favourite treat here, rather, the excitement was all about getting a sapling to plant in their school's kitchen garden.

The journey to learn about food security, growing what you eat, and appreciating nature is taking root literally and figuratively at the Shirley Castle Primary School in Portland.


An Indian Lesson In Diplomacy

Published: November 19, 2017

India grows into you, and the reasons could be varying — from the physical attributes to the metaphysical manifestations — then there is intrigue, the paradox of fast-paced chaotic lifestyle juxtaposed with the serenity of spirituality ... romantic.

Kimberley Morgan, foreign service officer at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, has developed new set of DNA, which she has gone on to trend.

"India is remarkable in so many ways," Morgan said. "While seeing the massive plains of this eastern land, I created the hashtag you can't un-see India (#YouCantUnseeIndia).

"I don't think it is even proper English," she added, "but my explanation for this hashtag is simple — the beauty and wonder I encountered in India will never leave the confines of my mind. It is now and forever imprinted there."


Crescendo Of Teaching: French Singer Uses Music To Teach Concepts

Published: December 3, 2017

"Bob Marley taught me English," said David Cairol, French songwriter and musician. "Now I am teaching French through my music."

Cairol's love affair of Bob Marley music, Reggae and his education to English language was a result of a mix up his friend had to give him a CD of Lenny Kravitz, but he got a CD of Bob Marley instead ... magic evolved.

"The first time I listened to his (Bob Marley) songs, I got goose bumps," Cairol said, he still does, by the mere mention of that moment.

Cairol was 14 then, belting songs, wanting to do something different, he said, and to bring about social change, like his inspiration Bob Marley, and as he puts it 'Spiritual Father'.

Two and half decades later, this teenager from Anglet, in south-west France, finally journeyed to Jamaica and the core focus of his visit is to use music to teach concepts.


Power Of The Written Word — Chilean Author Seeks To Encourage Reading And Popularising Books

Published: December 10, 2017

"Books are a means to an end," says Marcelo Simonetti, Chilean journalist, writer, and screenwriter, and a vociferous proponent of the written word.

His journey to the literary world kicked off literary and figuratively after his childhood dream of becoming a footballer didn't materialise.

"I applied to a professional club," he recalled. "When I reached, there were over 500 kids there."

His romance fizzled in five minutes.

Simonetti forayed into media and became a sports journalist. "One of the high points in my career was to cover the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France," he said, after which, he added, covering local football in Chile did not seem all that enticing.