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…
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.
09 November 2020

Teachers learning new ways for no child to be left behind

[SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH VIDEO] Read the report  Education on hold: A generation of children in Jamaica, the Caribbean and Latin America are missing out on their schooling “I wanted to get my education”, says 11-year-old Joel Young as he scribbles in his notebook. At his parents’ wooden house in Little Bay, a small rural fishing community on the west…, Digital divide under the spotlight, The pandemic has put the spotlight on the inequities of the education sector in Jamaica as never before, highlighting the digital divide in the country:  in 34% of households, children do not have exclusive access to an Internet device for education purposes . Also, there are glaring disparities between urban and rural areas. “We have now seen…, Helping teachers to cross divide, In this context, UNICEF partnered with the Ministry of Education through its National College for Educational Leadership, NCEL, to  launch a Virtual Instructional Leadership programme in June . The goal: share tools within the education sector to improve child-centred distance learning and present different options for remote contact with students…, 1,200 teachers trained so far, Among those enrolled in the course was  Keron King, principal at Little Bay All Age and Infant School , where Joel Young studies. Energetic and creative, King was already exploring online tools to boost learning when the pandemic hit. “I think the virtual platform did an excellent job in terms of providing that kind of support (to) the teachers…, Rural principal driven to innovate, King also encouraged all of the teachers to take the course. “I felt that this wasn’t something just for my own self, but I think it should be shared information for all members of staff,” he says. The online tools provided new possibilities for a school that was already exploring ingenious ways to tackle the challenges of remote teaching. In…, Bike taxis help connect students, A week after delivering the material, the drop off team picks up the completed assignments and delivers a new set. Such an effort makes an important difference, especially for families who live far away from school, separated not only by the lack of technology —telephones or internet— but also by the lack of safe roads. For those children,…, “The teachers are always there”, 12-year-old Sasheena is among the students benefiting from the programme. While her mother stirs a large metal pot in her sprawling restaurant, Sasheena sits nearby, completing her weekly lesson on her laptop. “Things that I don’t understand I’ll go contact my teacher over WhatsApp or video-call and she’ll help me – explain things to me so that I…, Offline and online learning options, “As it is, I’m a bit satisfied with the work that Mr. King provide(s),” says Sasheena’s mother, Kaedia Ellis Johnson. “She has access to the internet. She go(es) on  EduFocal  (a Jamaican online learning platform) and the teachers provide work on WhatsApp. I have a full-time business, gratefully the teachers are always there to assist if I’m not…, Still striving for best possible results, As Joel sits with his siblings at the living room table – turned make-shift school desk – the oldest, a 15-year-old, and Joel’s father take turns supervising the schoolwork when they can. Unable to contact his teachers through online devices, Joel still follows the routine he would if he were in an actual classroom whenever he has a question. “I…
09 October 2020

Tele-mental health services offer lifeline for struggling students

Six months ago, as classrooms emptied and the island braced for COVID-19, students began to confront a new normal. For many, this would test their mettle unlike ever before. For others already grappling with mental health issues, the adjustments would be even more difficult. “A lot of the children are fearful. They are really fearful,” says…, Follows UNICEF-backed pilot in 60 schools, Since schools were closed in March, Theresa and her team of counsellors – including social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists – have been providing telephone counselling, or tele-therapy. Over the past four months, 829 sessions have been conducted in the two Child Guidance Clinics of Kingston and St. Andrew Health Department. Of these, 62…, Ensuring children still access clinical support, The closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic created an opportunity to help ensure that students who needed clinical support could still get it – without having to risk exposure to the virus by visiting their counsellors in person. UNICEF provided 50 mobile phones – with monthly unlimited data and telephone service plans – through the…, 110,000 children may have mental disorder, “Approximately 3,500 children access the facilities offered through the 20 Child Guidance Clinic sites island-wide. Hence, over 95 per cent – or just over 110,000 children and adolescents with a mental disorder – may be going unrecognised and untreated in government settings,” he says. “There are only a handful of child and adolescent…, Tele-therapy helps reduce missed appointments, In general, around 40 per cent of children who are registered to attend the Child Guidance Clinics do not keep their appointments. Early evidence from the two child guidance clinics in Kingston and St. Andrew indicates that the number of appointments missed has reduced by half to about 20 per cent. This means 20 per cent more children are able to…
20 August 2020

Games that help children learn, even in COVID-19

[Scroll down for instructions to play games at home] Maurice Mahoney, aged 7, from Kilmarnock Primary & Infant School in  St. Bess  explains it best, “I love playing games so that I can learn!” Started by the  Breds Foundation  in Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth, with support from UNICEF,  EduSport  is a games-based approach to learning being…, Play is serious business, “Play is the work of children and it is what they do best,” reasons Melissa Taylor, who is studying for a degree in Early Childhood Development and is also a mother who enrolled her daughter Torian Thomas in Red Bank Primary, a school that implements EduSport. Since then, mom and dad Micoy Thomas, credit the school and EduSport for boosting Torian…, Easy for parents to learn, “Parents are enjoying it,” says Nesha Robinson, coach at Clapham Primary & Infant School.“They will ask me how to play a game at home and I will have no problem and explain. Children have always been telling the adults about the games, who are keen to learn more. When they see them playing, they’ll keep asking their children, ‘What’s the name…, Games to try at home:, 1. Treasure Hunt  💎 Instructions: Each child needs to have an empty box or bag. Bring the children to an open area where they will be safe to run around and pick things up. In a certain amount of time (i.e. 10 minutes) the children must collect as many things from a list given to them. The first person to reach back to the base with all the items…