Making dreams come alive ....
Twelve-year-old Rushawn Markland of Mona Commons in St Andrew is about two months away from his biggest undertaking in his young life - writing the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
It is an examination that for many children from communities such as his will determine, to a large extent, which secondary school they will attend and, ultimately, how easy it will be to achieve their dreams.
Markland wants to be a soldier.
As he charts his way to that goal, he is depending on a community literacy programme, started by University of the West Indies (UWI) graduate Adrian Duncan, to continue to help financially challenged youths like him.
The 12-year-old told The Gleaner he aims to attend Ardenne High in St Andrew. He said his parents are not able to buy all his textbooks or pay for extra lessons at the Mona Primary School, which he attends, and so the Mona Commons Youth Literacy Programme is filling an important gap.
"I am very grateful for the programme, because I cannot afford to attend extra classes and it helps me greatly in mathematics and science. I look forward to the assistance, both for myself and others in my community who really need the help," said Markland.
ENTHUSIASTIC TO LEARN
The Mona Commons Youth Literacy Programme started four years ago through a mentorship programme of Taylor Hall at the UWI, Mona campus. After the first project ended, Duncan took on the responsibility of remaining in the community to lead an effort to help children aged nine to 16.
"My friends and I would go from house to house, shop to shop, just to establish a relationship with the residents and give the assistance where it's needed. It amazed me what we accomplished, just seeing the children coming, seeking help and being enthusiastic to learn," said Duncan, who holds a master's degree from the UWI.
"It is important that we find ways to help Jamaica grow and develop. We want this to be sustainable and, in so doing, we are seeking the help of corporate Jamaica or anyone who can give of resources such as books, pens, lunches, anything relevant to serving the children," Duncan appealed.
It is also an appeal endorsed by Rushawn's mother, 26-year-old Roshelle Anglin.
"I think it is a great and wonderful thing that is being done. I see a lot of improvement in my children and others from the community. I really hope it will continue and Adrian will get the support needed. Ten years from now, a child benefiting now could be the next doctor. It is good for the community." Anglin said.
Currently, students about to sit GSAT, the Grade Four Literacy Test and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations get help from Duncan and his team on Saturdays.