The internationally recognised ‘Passport To Success’ programme of the International Youth Foundation (IYF) is set to help Jamaican youngsters gain a stronger commitment to completing their education and to adequately equip them to gain employment.
The innovative programme, which has seen success in 30 other countries and empowered an estimated 80,000 young people over the past decade, is being piloted in the Jamaican school system by the Ministry of Education in partnership with Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) and the IYF, and with the support of the British High Commission. It got off the ground with a Trainer of Trainers workshop for 25 guidance counsellors and teachers, which took place February 21-24 at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston.
The IYF, a US-based not-for-profit organisation, builds worldwide multi-sector partnerships to empower young people to be healthy, productive and engaged citizens. It targets vulnerable youth 14 to 24-year-olds both in-school youngsters at risk of dropping out, and those out of school, out of work or working in dangerous situations. Critical skills taught includes self-confidence, teamwork, communication, interpersonal skills, problem-solving and decision-making.
Dr Grace McLean, Chief Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, notes that the guidance counsellors, coaches and other selected teachers from across the island, will be taking the programme’s experiential, student-centred methodology to students enrolled in the Ministry’s Career Advancement Programme (CAP).
“These students represent the next generation of Jamaica’s labour force,” she points out, adding, “Reaching them with skills which encourage completing education, facilitating employment readiness and which strengthen self-confidence will truly be a wonderful contribution to nation building.”
“Jamaica, like so many other countries worldwide, faces a serious challenge in preparing young people for life, with the increasingly complex, competitive and often threatening world that faces them. Our at-risk youth face especially stiff odds. We are therefore very optimistic about the benefits that Passport to Success has already brought to youngsters in other countries, and we look forward to rolling it out to schools across Jamaica, once it has been successfully piloted here.”
Representatives of the British High Commission’s Political have noted that the High Commission was particularly pleased to support an initiative which promises to benefit young Jamaicans who might otherwise face dispiriting challenges. The young participants, it notes, will be empowered with the critical life and soft skills to not only increase their employability but to become contributing citizens of Jamaica in the very near future, In addition, it was pointed out, the High Commission expects that the results of this programme will positively impact the country’s growth as a nation, and wishes the students and their teachers every success.
The High Commission is supporting the Jamaican pilot programme to the tune of 10,000 British pounds sterling. The 18-month programme covers training of trainers, 12 months of implementation of the curriculum in schools, and ongoing support by YUTE coaches. The IYF Passport To Success Programme will be piloted to CAP students in 20 schools across 10 parishes.
The schools are: Penwood High, St. Annie’s High, Edith Dalton James High, Trench Town Polytechnic Institute, Excelsior Community College, Tivoli High, Denham Town High, the College of Agricultural Science & Education (CASE), Portmore Community College, Cumberland High, Kellits High, Maggoty High, Cross Keys High, Brown’s Town High, Holland High, Steer Town Academy, Green Pond High, Knockalva High, St. James High and the Western Hospitality Institute.