15 September 2021

“COVID-19 mash up everything” – my life without school

[SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH VIDEO] The only thing I can do now is just babysit my sister since I’m not going to school. I don’t have anything else to do. I prefer to babysit her then go out on the road and be around bad company. She’s teaching me a lot. She’s smart – anything people say she’ll understand and tell you. She might not tell you clearly, but…, COVID-19 compounds impact of violence on learning, When violence is happening in the community it’s hard for you to study and focus because you’ll be sitting out by the door with your book recapping certain things and you hear a lot of shots start to fire, and that just replays in your brain. I went to online classes for about two weeks. I didn’t have a device or anything to do the online classes…, School as a safe place has been taken away, School is something that can occupy your time. School is a safe place to be in the daytime; for instance, police can’t catch you on the road and ask you how you aren’t in school, and you don’t mix up in certain things. My message to others is that if you get a chance to go back to school, just go to school and do your schoolwork. If you can have…, What's UNICEF doing?, Since the closure of schools in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Jamaica, approximately 120,000 children, as reported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI), have been disengaged from learning. Schools have had little or no regular contact with these students. These children who have been lost to learning represent…
30 August 2021

Not a teacher, but doing what I can to help my family

[Scroll down to watch video] When I realized that my sister’s children were struggling being out of school, I decided that when I have free time before and after work, I am going to help them with reading – so I started off doing phonics, with ‘th’ words and so on. I did my little research and found out what might be suitable for them and from…, Balancing work with teaching nieces and nephews, Nowadays, I try to work with the children from 7am to 10am, which is before I usually start my telemarketing work, and after that I give them exercises and then they will go on the board to show me what they have learned. I will give them spelling tests to see where they are. We also do math, I teach them their timetables and stuff like that to…, Teaching them using a board in my bedroom, It’s not been easy, it takes a while, but they are coming along. Day to day, most times it’s seven kids so they learn to be quiet when I’m on a work call! I don’t usually teach with devices, it can be a distraction; especially when I am working, they can be doing other things so I just use the board, the old way., First in my family to graduate from high school, My mother had nine kids and I am the first of them to graduate from high school. Our mother grew us to be responsible, so as the older ones we have to look out for the younger ones. With me being the one who can read, it was my responsibility to teach the younger ones – so it was always something that I had to do. As parents if you can’t read,…, What's UNICEF doing?, Approximately 120,000 Jamaican children, as reported by the Ministry of Education, and Youth (MOEY), have been disengaged from learning since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Schools have had little or no regular contact with these students, who represent almost 25 per cent of the enrolment in public primary and secondary schools…
21 December 2020

When the cycle of violence gives way to peace

Aged 16, Damoie Byfield is recalling the day he had to run for his life, jumping into a gully just as a gunman’s bullet grazed his chest. He’s telling it so vividly, and with such a knowing smile that his mother Shian Leslie is finding it hard to hold back not tears, but actually laughter – relief that her son survived. If that expression of…, Helping to keep children in school, “My head was there sometimes, and sometimes my head wasn’t there,” he shrugs, referring to himself as a ‘troublemaker’. That was until his school’s guidance counsellor contacted the UNICEF-supported Peace Management Initiative (PMI). Formed as an independent body to intervene between gangs, the PMI uses a public health approach to empower…, Opportunity outside his community, “I bawled and said I never wanted to on the camp (residential workshop), because I was saying they’re gonna lock me up way down in country. I thought it was a boot camp where they would make you do push ups, but it was nice – the best trip I ever took in my life. I got to meet Kerry-Ann from PMI and then Mr Booth.” Sitting beside him today is his…, Intervening in community dispute, But just as this relationship was being built, Donat received a phone call from Damoie’s mother who was in tears. Suddenly there was a new threat against him, and she was considering moving the family away. As in other communities in similar situations, PMI’s Executive Director Damian Hutchinson organised an intervention with persons of influence…, Boys and girls impacted by violence, “Based on where he is coming from it can be difficult, but he is intelligent. All the teachers and all the guidance counsellors will tell you that he can do his work well, but that the only things that are hindering him are the nature of his involvement with the community around him and the things that traumatised him,” says Donat. Close to 80 per…, Positive example for his peers, “I wanted an extra day down there (at the residential workshop),” says Damoie. “I felt release, to get to make new friends, and I didn’t feel like in the community where you feel like someone is behind you and you don’t have to look left, right.” “I found some people that changed me and sometimes now I’m in Mr Booth’s position because things come…
08 December 2020

Checking-in with children with disabilities

“Are you having a good time using your tablets?” “YES!!!” shouts a chorus of students. It’s the International day for persons with disabilities and Jamaica’s Portfolio Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Hon Fayval Williams, is hosting a virtual check-in to learn from students with special needs, some of 534 who are receiving tablets…, Helping learning continue at home, “I use my tablets to read, do my online schoolwork, to do maths and learning things. – Amoya White, aged 11,a student at Randolph Lopez School in Hope in Kingston. For Tichan Beadle, aged 18 from Edgehill School of Special Education, St Ann, besides improving on her subjects, the tablet has also helped her social skills and it is a source of …, ‘One Laptop or Tablet Per Child’, The tablets are ‘Accessibility Ready’, meaning that that students can use them upon delivery. Valued at US$100,000,  the UNICEF donation is in support of the Ministry’s ‘One Laptop or Tablet Per Child’ initiative  and goes to children identified by their Special Education Unit as most in-need. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit households with children…, Adapting to the new norm, Across Latin America and the Caribbean, 97% of students are currently out-of-school. Here in Jamaica, UNICEF is working with the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL) to  help school leaders to adapt to the new norm of distance learning , and their teaching staff to  keep innovating , whether by online or offline means. Then there is…, Resources for parents, From videos to activities to stories,  visit our webpage for families of children with the disabilities , giving you the information you need to help them reach their full potential in life.