JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation invests $1.25m in summer programmes Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation has injected $1.25 million into youth summer programmes to assist hundreds of students in recovering from learning loss caused by a disruption in their academic programmes due to the pandemic.

UNICEF estimates that Jamaica’s children have lost 1.3 billion in-class hours over 19 months of physical school closures.

The learning loss is staggering, and the most vulnerable children who struggle to access remote (online) education have been hit the hardest, stated UNICEF.

Kim Mair, CEO of the JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation outlined, “It is against the background of the educational fallout being faced by our children that the foundation is happy to come on board to support these necessary interventions.”

Mairs said the foundation is particularly pleased to fund two schools in rural Jamaica – Point Hill Primary & Junior High and Friendship Primary.

“We recognise that our rural schools are unfortunately most affected by the digital and economic divide, which can prevent these children from truly tapping into their greatness and achieving academic success,” Mair said.

She added that this effort supports the government’s national initiative, ‘Recover Smarter-National School Learning and Intervention Plan’, aimed at helping students recover from learning loss due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The foundation also provided resources for several summer initiatives geared towards at-risk children and youth development programmes.

“We recognise that with extended lockdowns and a hiatus of several summer programmes in the last two years, the need for resocialization and youth development is important to help children to re-engage with their peers and participate in developmental activities that will cater to their psychosocial needs,” said Raquel Virtue, development manager at the JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation.

She added: “We aim is to cater to the ‘whole person and ensure that we support initiatives that will allow children to fuel their passion, explore their creativity and just have fun, especially with restrictions on these activities for an extended period.”

Social worker and founder of the August Town Sports & Community Development Foundation, Kenneth Wilson said the JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation’s continued partnership and the donation would help the organisation to extend the initiative to an all-year-round programme. It is targeted at 200 children starting at the basic-school level, over the next five years, with the expectation to extend it to older children. The programme is designed to develop youth through sports, mainly football and netball, and improve conflict resolution in the violence-prone communities of the Greater August Town area.

“We couldn’t do this without the continuous support of JMMB (Joan Duncan Foundation) and we welcome even more support to assist throughout the year, (because) we want to strengthen the value system of these children and give them more life skills so that they can have an alternative to joining gangs or being influenced in the wrong way,” Wilson said.

Summer programme beneficiaries include 4Milla Academy, Port Royal Marine Lab Summer Camp, August Town Sports & Community Development Foundation, Office of the Child Advocate, Maxfield Park Children’s Home, The Angelic Ladies Society, Trench Town community, Greenfields Environmental Camp, WWKIDS Summer Fun Reading Programme and Child Protection & Family Services Agency.