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Digicel Foundation pledges to help 50 struggling schools

Published:Friday | July 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer

IN CELEBRATION of Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence, the Digicel Foundation is investing $25 million to equip 50 primary schools across Jamaica with mobile enrichment carts.

The mobile enrichment cart provides academic intervention for students in grades one to three who are underperforming in literacy. Carts are equipped with laptops loaded with literacy and numeracy software.

It is also equipped with a multimedia projector, copier/scanner, laser printer, audio speakers and a reversible whiteboard; some carts are also equipped with Internet access.

"The Digicel Foundation has been funding the enrichment initiative since 2009 in partnership with the Ministry of Education. The main objective is to increase the literacy and numeracy levels at the primary school level by using technology and innovative teaching methods," Kerry-Jo Lyn, programmes manager at Digicel Foundation, told The Gleaner.

Lyn said the foundation is calling on the public for assistance in selecting the schools to receive these carts by visiting the Digicel Foundation's Facebook page to nominate a school in its 'Nominate 2 Educate' campaign. This campaign was launched on the foundation's Facebook page on Monday.

"There are two aspects to the enrichment initiative. We place enrichment centres in large schools, and for smaller schools with a population fewer than 300, we put in a mobile enrichment cart. Schools must also have achieved less than 50 per cent mastery on the Grade Four Literacy Test over the last two years. We currently have 31 enrichment carts in schools across the island," Lyn added.

The 50 schools to be awarded the 50 mobile enrichment carts at the end of the campaign period will also be based on approval by the Ministry of Education and, therefore, will not be chosen solely on voting results. Nominations close on Friday August 17, 2012 and recipients will be announced in September, in time for the new academic year.

"I personally love it, because it gives the public a chance to participate in identifying schools in their communities that need help. It makes you feel as if you can have an impact on what is happening in your community. We also encourage private-sector partnership where education is concerned, as it is a relatively low investment for a potentially high return," Lyn added.