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Digicel Foundation pledges to help five rural schools achieve full ECC certification

Published:Saturday | April 8, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Digicel Foundation CEO, Dane Richardson (left) and Executive Director of the Early Childhood Commission, Karlene Degrasse-Deslandes during a recent visit to Cassava River Primary and Infant School, one of five infant schools adopted by the foundation.

The Digicel Foundation will partner with five infant schools in rural Jamaica and has outlined plans to give them all the support they need to achieve full certification from the Early Childhood Commission (ECC).

This certification process requires early childhood institutions (ECIs) to fulfil the criteria set under the ECC's standards, which relate to health and safety (public health and fire safety reports and police records); and educational quality, including teacher qualification certificates.

To be fully certified, schools must also undergo an extensive inspection activity.

The Digicel Foundation's action is in keeping with its history of strong support for programmes in education, having recently completed a four-year partnership for education enrichment with the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information.

Speaking at the recent closing ceremony for the Enrichment Initiative Programme, State Minister in the education ministry Floyd Green lauded the Digicel Foundation for its continued impactful work with early childhood institutions.




"The Digicel Foundation's corporate social responsibility has been a boost to the Government's vision of developing our children to their fullest potential, irrespective of their social and economic backgrounds," said Green.

Mission Director for USAID Maura Barry Boyle also expressed delight at the impact of the collaborative effort of her organisation, the foundation and the education ministry on students.

"Together, we have successfully improved the early grade reading skills of hundreds of the island's children. I commend the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and the Digicel Foundation for their commitment to achieving a 100 per cent literacy rate for all Jamaicans," said Boyle.

"The data we gathered from the project forced us to start rethinking our efforts towards ensuring that the important markers in the education sector are achieved," noted Dane Richardson, CEO of the Digicel Foundation.

"That's why we're focusing on ECIs, starting with the schools we've selected, which are all located in rural Jamaica."

The schools are New Works Primary and Infant School in Westmoreland, Upper Rock Spring All-Age and Infant School in Hanover, Pratville Infant Department in Manchester, Carisbrook Infant Department in St Elizabeth, and Cassava River Primary and Infant Department in St Catherine.

The ECC, which has regulatory responsibility for all early childhood institutions, will now work closely with the foundation to ensure these schools meet all the necessary standards.




Karlene Degrasse-Deslandes, executive director of the ECC, said: "We are happy to welcome yet another partner on this journey to improve our early-childhood sector and guarantee a better learning environment for our children.

"The commission is convinced that this level of commitment from Digicel Foundation will encourage other stakeholders in the private sector to provide support needed to raise the standard of education."

Since 2009, the Digicel Foundation has been a committed partner in education, working with 231 primary schools across the island to improve literacy between grades one and three. To date, more than 100,000 students have been impacted and more than 250 teachers trained.