Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Basic Schools Get Help

Published:Thursday | March 24, 2016 | 3:00 AMKeisha Hill
Contributed Photo New Vision Early Childhood Iinstitution, St Ann and principal Claudette Brown Pentecostal Tabernacle Basic School, Kingston
Contributed Photo Tech-De-Bus II
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The Project for Advancement of Childhood Education (Canada), or simply PACE, has been supporting early-childhood education and initiatives in Jamaica and Canada for almost 30 years, providing annually more than $10 million to over 300 basic schools across the island.

With its objectives of enhancing the overall development of young children at the critical age of three to six years, PACE, without the assistance of government funding, continues to provide for vital programmes through partnerships with local and international stakeholders.

Diana Burke, board member and chair of the PACE Adopt-A-School Programme, says the need for support is huge, with more than 130,000 children in the early-childhood sector.

"Through our Adopt-A-School programme, PACE is investing in the provision of brighter futures for more than 12,000 girls and boys each year. Canadian patrons adopt a school of their own choosing or, if they prefer, a school is selected for them. The schools use the funds for everything, from purchasing school equipment and supplies to fixing fences and roofs to buying refrigerators and stoves so that their students can have a hot meal each day," Burke said.

THEIR ACADEMIC PROGRAMME

Burke, who served as president of PACE from 2002 to 2006, championed the earlychildhood student-exchange programme in 2004 which is still operating annually by George Brown College. The college sends 15 student teachers to basic schools in Jamaica for a month, with credits towards their academic programme.

"We also provided a mobile computer lab called Tech De Bus II in 2008 with 10 computers, air conditioning, generator and kindergarten students software, now operated by Kandi-Lee Crooks-Smith, principal of Allman Town Primary School, to visit various schools in that area and teach children basic computer skills," Burke said.

"Most of these schools are sponsored by individuals in Canada who attended these schools or have families, friends or people they know living in the town or community that they are from. They want to see the schools in their community get better each year," Burke said.

PACE has also provided 75 XO laptop computers in 2011 to the Providence Methodist Basic School in Kingston, in partnership with the UWI Mona School of Business, at a cost of $3 million. These are still being used at the school today.

PACE (Canada) was started in 1987 by Jamaica-born educator Dr Mavis Burke in response to a request from then Prime Minister of Jamaica Edward Seaga.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com