Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Teen launches 'Read Up Jamaica' programme

Published:Saturday | December 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Read up Jamaica executive director Jelani Williams (centre) and parents Stacy and Joseph Williams at the recent launch of the programme.
Read Up Jamaica executive director Jelani Williams reads to a group of students at the recent launch of the programme at the Glenmuir High School.-photos by Horace Fisher
Read Up Jamaica executive director Jelani Williams (boy in centre) and a number of his assistants at the recent launch of the Read Up Jamaica programme.

Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer

Armed with the often-cited mantra that 'every child can learn - and every child must learn', 17-year-old Jelani Williams launched his brainchild, the 'Read Up Jamaica' programme, at a recent ceremony at the Glenmuir High School in May Pen, Clarendon.

Speaking at the launch, the young philanthropist and future bio-medical engineer, asserted that for Jamaica to achieve a 100 per cent literacy rate, every child, especially those in state care, must be given a fair shot at a decent education.

"A 100 per cent literacy rate isn't a pipe dream, however, we need to include all classes of students in the education's matrix, especially those in state care, for Jamaica to achieve this milestone," Williams, a lower-six student at Glenmuir insisted.

"Therefore, 'Read up Jamaica' will make as its primary mandate to specially focus on the educational development of children in state care as preparation for their later reintegration into the wider society."

helping state wards

Williams informed Rural Xpress that his dream to focus on the educational development of the state wards follows his involvement in the Glenmuir's peer education programme, which took him to one of these children's home for a reading programme.

And after recognising the gap between the state wards and their contemporaries in the regular school system, the youngster immediately decided that he had to do something to narrow that gap. His drive to create a level playing field for the wards of the State later led to the formation of the 'Read Up Jamaica' programme, which is headquartered in Clarendon.

"As a team member of my school's (Glenmuir) peer educator programme, we would often go to children's homes. I, however, realised that the children in the homes are lagging behind students in the regular school system, and simply giving away books and or reading for the children isn't cutting it," he emphasised.

"So naturally, I decided to do something about this gap in the educational development of the kids in the homes, and that was when the concept for Read Up Jamaica began to take shape ... . Today, Read Up Jamaica is a reality," he pointed out.

He noted that since the programme was incorporated earlier this year, a number of students in state care had already benefited from workshops, book donations, and a soon-to-be established scholarship programme, which would function as an incentive to the most improved student.

The programme, which Williams said couldn't be a reality without the support of his parents Joseph and Stacy Williams, the Jamaica Public Service Company, Oxford University Press, LMH Publishing, Talented Tots Academy, the Jamaica Basic School Foundation, Kingston Book Shop, and Kurbitton Construction Company, is seeking additional sponsors for an islandwide rollout.