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USAID on board to boost book drive

Published:Monday | April 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM

THE UNITED States Agency for International Development (USAID) has made a donation of US$2,000 (J$180,000) to the Rotary Race to Literacy Drive in order to buy locally produced books.

"The book drive is an excellent example of what public-private partnerships can accomplish," Karen Hilliard, mission director to USAID/ Jamaica, said.

"We at USAID are passionate about promoting access to quality education. This includes ensuring that the students have the materials they need, as well as the resources to keep them engaged."

Having just launched its third project in support of primary education, USAID has already successfully completed two educational projects - Expanding Educational Horizons and Centres for Excellence in Teacher-Training Projects.

The new project will focus on replicating successful approaches to improving basic literacy and numeracy to 250 more primary schools across the island. It will also continue to place special emphasis on boys who continue to underperform compared to Jamaica's girls.

To improve school financing

With education high on its list, USAID has been working closely with the Ministry of Education towards greater accountability in the education system, as well as providing assistance to the National Education Trust to improve school financing.

"Our programme is in keeping with the Ministry of Education's strategic objective to transform the education system to achieve 100 per cent literacy by 2015," Hilliard said.

"We believe education is the bedrock of human development, and in support of the Ministry of Education's transformation efforts, we are focusing on helping children from grades one to three acquire foundational reading skills. Given this focus on literacy, the book drive is an essential element in reaching these goals."

The book drive, a collaborative effort uniting all the Rotary clubs of Jamaica, will take place May 1-7 at Emancipation Park.

Recently approved by the Guinness Book of World Records to attempt to break the existing record of 242,624 books collected in seven days, the drive promises to benefit all Jamaicans, as the Jamaica Library Service will be the primary recipient.

"I am absolutely delighted to have the public endorsement for the book drive from USAID," said Deika Morrison, chair for the Rotary Race to Literacy Book Drive Project.

"We are incredibly appreciative that USAID has pledged a book from the personal collection of Karen Hilliard, a staff drive and, of critical importance, a donation to purchase locally produced books to support the local book industry."

Morrison is appealing to Jamaicans to drop off books now at the various collection points islandwide, including The Gleaner Company at 7 North Street, and branches of Jamaica Money Market Brokers, as well as Island Grill.