FOR THE first time ever, all early-childhood institutions in Jamaica which have applied for registration with the Early Childhood Commission are slated to receive a standard set of recommended learning tools.
In February, Do Good Jamaica, a charitable non-governmental organisation, launched Crayons Count to raise awareness of the importance of early-childhood education and to garner enough support in cash and kind to provide each institution with recommended learning tools.
These 13 learning tools - to be provided in kits for each school - are crayons, books, balls, blocks, play dough, kids' scissors, paper, puppets, puzzles, manipulatives, paint, paintbrushes and glue sticks. To give an idea of the scope of this project, 648,000 crayons, 21,600 paintbrushes and 5,400 balls are examples of just three of the 13 items in the kits.
"We received tremendous support from the private sector, charities, the US (United States) Embassy, and individuals, here and in the diaspora. The US Embassy provided learning kits for 70 specific schools, while other donors provided cash and in-kind donations of thousands of crayons and hundreds of books, as well as the other items in various quantities," said Deika Morrison, founder of Do Good Jamaica/Crayons Count.
While other donations fully funded the purchase of two of the 13 items for these kits, Continental Baking Company Ltd (National bakery), in playing a pivotal role as the single largest donor to the campaign, bought 10 of the 13 items in the kit in sufficient quantities for the approximately 133,000 children in all these early-childhood institutions across Jamaica.
SPREADING THE MESSAGE
"National came on in such a big way," explained Morrison. "First, they teamed up with The Gleaner, our other major sponsor, to provide curriculum content for basic school children in every single Saturday Gleaner. Then they helped to spread the message through branding on their vehicles and bread bags - a move which took Crayons Count into every household. When the children responded so enthusiastically to our events, National arranged a mobile unit with the Crayons Count learning tools. And then, they spent millions of dollars buying these learning tools for children."
Morrison explained that she is anxious to distribute the kits. However, Crayons Count is awaiting a final item.