Wed | Jun 20, 2018

JFJ chairman resigns

Published:Saturday | July 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

THE FINDINGS of an internal review by human-rights lobby Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) into the controversial sex-education programme implemented in six private children's homes this year have resulted in the resignation of the group's chairman Lisa Lakhan-Chen.

"As the chairperson, I would have the ultimate responsibility for oversight and vetting of the programme," Lakhan-Chen told The Gleaner late yesterday, noting that her resignation will take effect next Friday.

She said her deputy, the Reverend Father Sean Major-Campbell, has indicated that he too has plans to tender his resignation over the findings.

The review exonerated JFJ's executive director Kay Osbourne, pointing out that she had nothing to do with the "design, development, preparation or implementation and or approval of the content nor did she have oversight of any aspect of this programme."

Lakhan-Chen's resignation brings to four the number of persons who have resigned from the board of the human- rights lobby group since the programme came to light.

The controversial programme, titled "Healthy Sexual Growth and Development in Marginalized Youth: Rights, Responsibilities and Life Skills", created a firestorm for the explicit sexual details it provided to children as young as 13 years old.

Inappropriate

In the review, which was made public yesterday, JFJ accepted, among other things, that over the eight months the programme was in place, children in "some of the homes may have been exposed to content that might not have been appropriate for their age."

"This possibility arose from weaknesses in the oversight and vetting process. The board of directors accepts that there were deficiencies in the vetting process and holds itself fully accountable," reads a section of the report from the review.

JFJ said the review also found that former executive director of JFJ Dr Carolyn Gomes designed, developed, negotiated and contracted the programme with funding from the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition.

Noting that the programme began under Gomes' "direct guidance", the review concluded that even when she demitted office as executive director, "she did not provide the board of directors with complete information on the project, notwithstanding that she continued to sit on the board until her resignation" last month.

Another critical finding of the review was that there were "material deviations" to the project proposal, which affected its development and implementation.

"The project proposal required that FAMPLAN [Jamaica Family Planning Association] sign off on the material to be presented to the wards. This was not done," the review asserted.