JSH is currently working to help improve the living circumstances of Jamaican people by fostering self-sustaining programs such as literacy, skills training, community development, and institutional strengthening. Our Jamaican partners inspire us — they are the reason we do what we do. Below is a list of our current and previous partners.
St. Annie’s Primary School
St. Anne’s Primary School is located in downtown Kingston just beside the Kingston Public Hospital. The school is located in a seriously economically depressed inner city area that is distressed further by periods of extreme violence. Chronic poverty, illiteracy and very high levels of unemployment have eroded most social institutions: family, school, health care, justice. Over the past two years unpredictable violence has impacted the community and consequently the student population has also decreased as families leave the community or send their children to live elsewhere. Those who have stayed are coping with the anxiety and trauma as a result of the instability – students, parents and school staff have been affected.
Despite the challenges, approximately 380 students are enrolled at the school this year, in Grades One through Six. The dynamic principal and staff are dedicated to providing the best possible learning experience for the students of this community.
To address the situation this year, JSH is supporting a Performing Arts programme, including dance and music, which offers students, staff and the broader community a creative and positive outlet to express themselves, build self-esteem and to come together as a community. Given the context in which they work, JSH is also offering support to the school staff to develop strategies to cope with the trauma and meet the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.
St. Margaret’s Human Resource Centre
St. Margaret’s Human Resource Centre is located in Olympic Gardens, a community in Kingston and has a student enrolment of approximately 240 youth aged 14 to 25. The Centre aims to address the problem of unemployment and improvement in overall education for Olympic Gardens and the surrounding community through skill training, remedial education and provision of library facilities that would not otherwise be available to inner city at-risk youth.
JSH supports a programme that includes a skills training course for 55 youth to specialize in Woodwork (furniture, manufacturing, carpentry and joinery) as well as a Community Library. In the past JSH was able to support the provision of a Library open to students and community members, as well as, a parenting programme is an important component to the Centre’s work with youth – ensuring that families and the broader community support their children as they become productive members of society.
St. Margaret’s is one of five centres operated by St. Patrick’s Foundation, a 25-year old non-profit organization operating within the West Kingston inner-city areas of Olympic Gardens, Tower Hill, Seaview Gardens, and Riverton City.
Tavares Gardens Primary School
Tavares Gardens Primary School is located in an inner-city community that has faced poverty and gang violence on an ongoing basis over the past number of years. The school’s location in the middle of areas controlled by different factions, means that parents worry about student safety to coming to school; irregular attendance affects student academic success. Because of long-term poverty, the school morale has been very low, and with few students enrolled (presently 220 students), the school is not qualified for funding for more than the very basic curriculum. The school’s goal is to provide a sound educational foundation for children, including academic studies, good citizenship practices and proper socialization and personal development.
In 2007, a representative of the Transformation Team of the Jamaican Ministry of Education recommended Tavares Gardens Primary School to participate in the JSH replication project. After a site visit and interview with the principal, it was agreed that JSH would fund a small project based on the approach taken by St. Peter Claver Primary School. A music programme for Grades 4-6 was initiated and was successful in developing self-confidence and self-discipline, raising the overall spirit of the school, and supporting better attendance of the students. Based on this success, and using the model of St. Peter Claver Primary School, the Tavares Gardens school expanded its extracurricular programmes, which now include:
- Instrumental music (recorders, drum, guitar) for all students in Grades 1 to 6
- After School Drama club
- Team sports and physical education for all students
- Literacy programme for identified students requiring additional assistance
The focus of these activities is to motivate children to come to school regularly, develop social skills among the student population, and have a positive impact building community through school activities.
St. Peter Claver Primary School
St. Peter Claver Primary School is located in an inner-city community in the west end of Kingston. The school accommodates approximately 1,000 students between the ages of 6 and 11. The institution strives to serve both the educational needs of the population, as well as offering support for community development of the area. In view of this empowerment focus, an ongoing partnership has been developed with a number of private sector, NGO and public sector organizations as well as community organizations. These alliances have resulted in improved development and changes over the fifteen years of the existence of the school.
The challenges faced by the school are similar to those in other inner-city communities. Poverty leads to crime and violence in the community, and a variety of barriers for children to attend school and achieve academic success. To address these issues, St. Peter Claver Primary School has implemented several extra-curricular programmes, including music, arts and physical education, to attract children to attend school regularly and to build the social and personal skills necessary to achieve academically. As well, St. Peter Claver School recognizes the need for parental support and participation, and therefore builds parenting skills and involves parents more directly in the educational process of their children.
Since the early 1990s, S-Corner Clinic & Community Development Organization has been a significant community presence in the downtown Kingston neighbourhoods of Bennet Lands and Whitfield Town. It has responded to the changing needs of the people and played an active role in creating a peaceful community. Over the past year, S-Corner has experienced many challenges and is currently in a period of transition. Still, S-Corner’s presence in the community is vital. JSH support this year will help community youth who are working towards their high school diplomas and preparing to take their CXC examinations so they can further their education or find meaningful work.
Annotto Bay and surrounding communities, St. Mary
Annotto Bay is a small rural community of 10,000 people located on the north-east coast of Jamaica, in St. Mary Parish. This parish, which is considered the poorest in Jamaica, has experienced the devastating decline in employment caused by the closing of sugar and downsizing of banana plantations. Poverty is high and employment opportunities are non-existent for illiterate people. Criminal activities have also begun to rise. In addition, this region also suffers annually from hurricanes, floods and droughts.
The Sisters of St. Joseph in Hamilton, Ontario supported education and community development projects in Annotto Bay and surrounding communities for almost 16 years. In 2007, the Sisters were called back to Canada permanently, so prior to departing Jamaica, they trained a project coordinator and set up a Project Board comprised of members of the local community to continue supervision and responsibility for the literacy programme. With the leadership of the Project Coordinator, help from members of the Project Board, and support from JSH, the Literacy Project expanded to include Enfield Primary and Intermediate School. At its height, the project included children in Grades 1 through 6 in four schools in rural communities of St. Mary parish: Annotto Bay All Age School, May River Primary School, Mt. Joseph Primary School, and Enfield Primary and Intermediate School.
In 2012, due to budget reductions, JSH ended its support of this project. The project subsequently closed.
St. Pius X Skills Training Centre is a small vocational training centre located in West Kingston, in the community of Cockburn Gardens. Young women and men from the surrounding community face a number of barriers to employment – their home address alone will often bar them from employment. Both women and men accept low-paying, unstable employment.
The Centre prepares women and men for more stable employment by offering training and certification in the skills of Cosmetology, Food & Nutrition (Catering), and Clothing & Textiles. The programme also incorporates life skills and literacy training to ensure that graduates are able to apply for and keep a job or be qualified for further training. Certification and/or references from the Centre provide additional assistance for those seeking employment. While the programme was originally created to help young women, more recently young men have shown interest and have been accepted into the programme as well. JSH’s last programme with the Centre ended in 2012, and since then the Centre has been able to continue its activities without JSH’s financial support.