Fri | May 24, 2019

Invest more in education, NGO chairman urges private sector and J'cans

Published:Thursday | September 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Recipients of the Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO) tertitary scholarships with their symboilic cheques, along with key individuals involed in the handover ceremnoy. From left are Rosalee Gage-Grey, CEO, Child Protection and Family Services Agency; Jody-Ann Jackson; Ketania Campbell; Nabita Smith; Gary Williams, founder and chairman of COJO; Adrianna Parchment; Omario Thrope; Phallon Walsh; and Chorvelle Johnson, CEO, Sagicor Bank.

Having seen his New York-based Jamaican charity contribute more than US$125,000 in tertiary scholarships to wards of the State in the last six years alone, founding chairman of Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO) Gary Williams has charged that the private sector and Jamaicans are not investing enough in education.

COJO works closely with the Child Protection and Family Services Agency to identify exceptional students who need financial assistance to further their educational pursuits.

Williams' assertion came against the background of COJO awarding US$25,000 in scholarships to six wards of the State enrolled in tertiary institutions at a scholarship luncheon yesterday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

"As a country, we have a culture defect; we don't give, and there's that same problem in the [United] States with our own people. They'll pay money to go see a reggae concert, but if asked to give money to benefit a child or for education, often time, they won't do it because they don't see any returns or benefit to them," he told The Gleaner.




Williams, a St George's College alumnus, founded COJO six years after emigrating to the United States.

The non-governmental organisation first came to Jamaica in 1996 and, since then, has contributed to every children's home in every parish by building libraries and computer labs and donating school supplies, among other things.

"As a nation, whether as businesses or individuals, we must invest in our children's education because they're the leaders of tomorrow, they're our greatest resource," added Williams.

"I didn't forget where I was coming from because it was my neighbours and my church who assisted me while growing up. So, I gave the very first donation to the YMCA in the States, and then I thought to myself, 'I'm from Jamaica, let me give back to my country', and I also worked for Alpha Boys' Home. So, I've been a part of the system, and I know the challenges these children face. We must do more to further them, and education is the key," he stressed.