Wednesday 2 December, 2020

UNICEF, NSSC engage students to ‘Reimagine Education’

UNICEF Jamaica and the National Secondary Students Council (NSSC) will consult with hundreds of high school students commencing in Youth Month, November 2020, to get their views on improving the education system.

The ‘Reimagine Education’ initiative starts on World Children’s Day, November 20. UNICEF and the NSSC will conduct a series of virtual consultations with a range of students from rural to urban areas, including children with and without disabilities and those in state care.

The partnership aims to ensure that the voices of youth are included in the deliberations of the National Education Transformation Commission that was established by the prime minister earlier this year.

After the series of consultations has concluded, a final report with the students’ feedback will be submitted both to the Commission – ahead of the Commission’s March 2021 deadline for submission of its final report to Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

“We are hearing from fellow students that they would like to see our education system focus in a direction that is geared towards the evolution of the world right now and not the past curriculum,” said 17-year-old NSSC member Ree-Anna Robinson. “These consultations will help us to discover more exciting ideas.”

“UNICEF commends the National Education Transformation Commission for wanting to hear from students themselves about their challenges and proposed solutions – after all they are Jamaica’s foremost experts on what it is like to be educated during a pandemic,” said Mariko Kagoshima, UNICEF Jamaica Representative.

Globally, UNICEF has been focusing on supporting governments to prepare for a safe return to school and to ‘Reimagine Education’ after the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Jamaica, UNICEF has supported the training of 1,200 educators via the Virtual Instructional Leadership course by the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL). UNICEF has also provided 500 tablets for children with disabilities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

‘Reimagine Education’ builds on a significant effort for World Children’s Day 2019, in which UNICEF and the Government of Jamaica engaged over 300 children across the island to listen to their views on violence against children, as part of global efforts to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Those consultations culminated with a group of children addressing Parliament on the matter for the first time in the nation’s history.

"The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations in 1989, is one of the most important international treaties in the modern development of human rights. Three of its most progressive articles deserve special attention in Jamaica, where too many still believe that children should be seen but not heard by adults,” said Professor Orlando Patterson, Chairman of the National Education Transformation Commission.

“Jamaica is a signatory to this treaty and I am in full agreement with it. I therefore applaud the UNICEF team’s promotion of World’s Children Day and, as Chair of the Jamaica Education Transformation Commission, I strongly support its effort to learn the views of children and youth on how we might best reimagine and improve our system of education."

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