USAID grants $67 million for school safety programme

THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has allocated approximately $67 million (US$500,000) to support the youth component of the Improved Safety and Security in Schools programme in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

The two-year programme, which began in July 2017 and is slated to end in July 2019, is valued at US$3 million. It is being implemented through the National Education Trust (NET).

Addressing a JIS Think Tank on Tuesday, senior director for children’s affairs in the ministry’s Youth and Adolescent Policy Division, Hyacinth Blair, said that the partnership aims to transform schools and their immediate surroundings into safe zones.

“Using a multilayered, multi-sectoral approach, which includes schools, communities, parents, and the general public, the programme is intended to reduce the incidence of violence among students and ensure that Jamaica improves and maintains a quality education system that benefits all learners,” she noted.

She pointed out that under the youth component, two youth information centres in Westmoreland and St Catherine were rebranded as youth innovation homework centres in May and June 2018, respectively.

These centres provide a safe, structured, supervised and supportive after-school environment for young people to receive homework assistance and tutorial services. A total of 18,571 youth benefited from the resources at these centres between September and December 2018.

In addition, members of marching bands have been trained and empowered, in keeping with objective four of the programme to provide co-curricular support for uniformed groups and youth clubs, Blair told JIS News.