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It's time to get...Ghetto Wise - Young people making a difference in the inner city

Published:Sunday | September 12, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Everald Daley - Gladstone Taylor/Photographer
Ghetto Wise teachers (from left) Donovan Rooche, Monifa Harvey, Kerena Herbert and Everal Daley.- Gladstone Taylor/Photographer
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Two years ago, 19-year-old Everal Daley had an epiphany. He had been searching for a way to make some sort of positive impact on his community, Rollington Town in Kingston. Unemployment has long been a major issue there, crime is an everyday problem and the streets are often littered with young men and women who have nothing better to do than sit around, waiting for life to happen. But what could one young man fresh out of high school do to help? Where would he start?"The crime issue was major and I started to think about what I could do to help change the situation," said Daley.

"I realised that without a steady income for the young people, there would never be a decline in crime."

A light bulb went off in his head.

"It just hit me one day that education was really the answer to many of the issues in the community. A sound education would open doors and give people opportunities, regardless of where they are from," said Daley.

Fired up and eager to put a plan together, Daley started making phone calls to people he knew from high school and other social and voluntary groups he was associated it.

Making a change

"I wanted to get together some people who shared the same kind of ideas and wanted to make the same kind of change," said Daley.

And so Ghetto Wise was formed. It's an initiative Daley and his friends came up with, which aims to provide free classes in mathematics and English language to those who need it. Daley, who is a student at Mico College, and three other volunteers, conduct the classes. They use a classroom at the Rollington Town Primary School and teach about 80 persons, ranging in age from 15 to 65 years. Classes are held in the evenings, three days per week, for two hours each day.

"When we started, our intention was to take on just a handful of persons at a time, and only from our community, but since word has got out, the demand has been so great," said Daley.

The students who are already registered for classes in the coming school year are from a number of places, including Bull Bay in St Thomas and communities in St Ann.

"It's still just the four volunteer teachers conducting the classes, but if it continues to grow, we'll have to recruit other volunteers," Daley said.

Because the programme has been attracting persons with varying educational backgrounds, classes have been separated into two groups, advanced and introductory.

"We place the students who are currently in the formal school system in our advanced group. They will only need guidance in specific areas. The other group is made up of persons who are not in the formal school system and so they need a wider sort of tutoring," Daley said.

Results were recently released for advanced students who sat this year's CSEC exams.

Thirteen students of the Ghetto Wise programme sat the English language exam. Nine of them passed. Fourteen students sat the math exam, seven of them passed.

Daley is encouraged by these results.

"This is a free programme that is really targeting persons who would not normally have been able to, or bothered to take these exams. The fact that we received these results makes me feel good. It's a positive move for those students. Their lives are much better because of it."

For the Ghetto Wise team, this is only the beginning.

"It's our mission to use the blessings that we have to provide free education to those who need it. We hope that over time, the programme will continue to grow so more people can get the opportunity to better themselves and the country," said Daley.




Donovan Rooche conducts a class at the Rollington Town Primary School in Kingston. - Contributed



Everal Daley