|Damion Crawford encourages reading at a recent Book Festival - Rudolph Brown photo from The Gleaner|
By Jean Lowrie-Chin
(Excerpt from Observer column - Mon 18 June 2012)
Food for the Poor board member William Mahfood, related how excited he was to learn about an extensive education programme being undertaken by Damion Crawford who had actually begun this initiative with colleagues at UWI before he was elected Member of Parliament.
It was only two weeks ago that this column was bemoaning the lack of passion in our leaders, so you can imagine how transfixed I was to listen to Crawford describing his 3-2-1 approach for his constituency:
- 3 CXC subjects per household after 5 years
- 2 CAPE subjects per household after 10 years
- 1 University Degree per household after 15 years
He has 4,017 students registered in the programme from areas in all 97 polling divisions. Welfare assistance to families is tied to this project. Parents or guardians must be active in the PTA, certified by a letter from the schools’ principals. If they cannot pay some of the fees required by the school, a barter system is in place where goods and services can be offered in lieu of cash. (This took me back to the days of our childhood when my mother would barter groceries from her shop and her sewing skills to send us to the Catholic prep school in Sav-la-mar.)
There is a HOPE reading club (Helping Our People Excel), Verandah Basic for all age groups, adult classes where soup is offered, and an upcoming GSAT camp at UWI for 212 children about to enter grade six. Crawford’s team has bought GO-GSAT modules for the camp, which will provide meals and accommodation. A total of 47 volunteers are on board to teach and counsel.
There are plans to buy books wholesale for CSEC students, to set up an IT learning centre in Bull Bay and to continue with a comprehensive after school programme in which all 22 schools have homework centres from 4 to 6 pm.William wants us to support this model and have it replicated across Jamaica – what a mighty wave that would be!