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National pumps $50m worth of colour into Crayons Count

Published:Friday | April 19, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Deika Morrison receives a cheque for $50 million from the chairman of Continental Baking Company (National) 'Butch' Hendrickson (right). Also participating in the presentation are Education Minister Ronald Thwaites (third left) and director of operations at National, Steven Sykes. - Colin Hamilton/Photographer

Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson, chairman and CEO of Continental Baking Company (National), is warning that the nation will be "lost" unless Jamaicans start thinking seriously about building the country "from the generations now".

"We cannot lose another generation of children in this country; we have lost too many," declared Hendrickson as he addressed a press conference yesterday at which Continental gave the Crayons Count early childhood education initiative a significant boost with a cash donation of $50 million.

"You can see it in our quality of life, you can see it in the young people looking towards migration as a solution to their dreams and their futures."

The money was handed over by Hendrickson on behalf of Continental, chief sponsor behind the Crayons Count initiative, at the Hope Zoo in St Andrew.

"It is my hope that the Crayons Count programme will expand. It is my hope that we will be successful in what it is we set out to do," Hendrickson said.

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, in his comments, expressed high praises for the initiative and said he hoped the generosity on display would become contagious.

"I have been a critic in the past about the transfer of resources from the poor to the rich systemically in this country. This is a good instance of us reversing that process. We have taken that which is ample, and we are devoting it to those most in need," Thwaites said.

'Learning Lorry' unveiled

During the press conference, a new mobile classroom known as the 'Learning Lorry' was also unveiled.

The classroom is intended to strengthen the campaign to significantly improve early childhood education in the country.

Deika Morrison, founder of Do Good Jamaica and conceptualiser of Crayons Count, in explaining how the lorry would be utilised, said: "The Learning Lorry is meant to support teachers. What we will be doing is going across the island to have workshops with teachers to show them how to use the tools donated to meet curriculum objectives. It's a different and exciting way of engaging our children."

Morrison added: "We will be going into communities and we will have teachers and parents from different schools coming into our mobile classroom and learning about the tools."

She said a schedule was currently being worked out for when and where the Learning Lorry would go, but gave the assurance that the entire island would be covered.