JN Scholars Urged to Pursue Excellence  

Photo Caption: JN PEP Scholarship recipients take a group photo after the awards ceremony at The Summit in Kingston on Sunday, November 12.

Twelve-year-old Mykah Roberts, a first form student at Clarendon College, strutted proudly to the podium as he collected his scholarship award. He was among 37 students who have been named JN Scholars.

He and the 36 other young high achievers were handed their awards by the JN Foundation for their outstanding performances in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) for 2023 on Sunday, November 12, at the Summit, formerly the Knutsford Court Hotel, in New Kingston.

“I’m so happy to be awarded this scholarship. It was hard work preparing for the exams, but the learning was fun,” the aspiring zoologist said. 

Tishauna Mullings, a development practitioner, and social entrepreneur was the guest speaker at the function and told the scholars that there is a seed of greatness in each of them. She also advised them of the ‘Eagle antidotes’, or ways of pursuing excellence and honouring their purpose.

“Scholars, I want you to strive for excellence,” she said. The next letter in this antidote is ambition; think about where you want to be ultimately, and what you are doing now will contribute to that.”

The other areas she mentioned include growth, assuming leadership roles, prioritizing their goals and empowering themselves.

Held under the theme ‘Pursuing Excellence, Honouring Purpose’, Parris Lyew-Ayee, chairman of the JN Foundation, urged the recipients to pursue their dreams.

“Remember that you have a unique opportunity to pursue your dreams and reach your full potential. Use this opportunity wisely, stay focused, and continue to excel in your academic and personal endeavours. Embrace the challenges and opportunities that come your way, for they will help you grow and develop into a stronger, more confident individual,” he charged.

Mr Lyew-Ayee disclosed that since 1983, The Jamaica National Group has been supporting the educational pursuits of hundreds of young people at both the secondary and tertiary levels.

“This year’s reception is extra special as we are celebrating 40 years since establishing this scholarship programme. Imagine four decades of changing lives and four generations of hope for a brighter future. It’s a momentous occasion that speaks volumes about our dedication to education and empowerment,” he said.

Mr Lyew-Ayee informed that The Jamaica National Group’s commitment to education has gone beyond monetary assistance.

“It’s about nurturing the leaders of tomorrow, individuals who will shape our world with their knowledge, skills, and vision. As we celebrate 40 years, we take pride in being a part of this journey,” he said.

JN PEP Scholarship recipients take a group photo after the awards ceremony at The Summit in Kingston on Sunday, November 12.

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, disclosed that the scholarship selection was very competitive, with close to 400 applications received islandwide.

“Each of you has demonstrated exceptional dedication, resilience, and passion, and it is with pleasure that we acknowledge your hard work,” she said.

A total of 37 students received five-year scholarships, while 10 students received one-time grants. Of the 37, three are for the top performing applicants from each county and 14 are for the top performing applicants from each parish. The remaining 20 were awarded to children of employees of The Jamaica National Group.

Over the past 40 years, The Jamaica National Group has provided financial support for other educational and youth development initiatives, such as child month initiatives undertaken by the National Child Month Committee and the Ministry of Education and Youth’s National Youth month activities.

The JN Foundation has also invested millions in educational transformation initiatives such as the Centres of Excellence and iLead programmes- both targeted at improving leadership in rural-based underperforming schools.

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JN Foundation Celebrates Scholarship Programme with 47 PEP Awards

Photo Caption: Claudine Allen (third right in back row), general manager of the JN Foundation and Parris Lyew-Ayee (second right in back row), chairman of the JN Foundation take a group photo with the 2022 JN Foundation PEP Scholarship recipients at last’s year’s ceremony.

For the past 40 years, the JN Group has been assisting students and families with financial support for academic achievement. Spearheaded by their philanthropic arm, the JN Foundation, the Group will be presenting 47 scholarships and grants to students who excelled in the 2023 Primary Exit Profile (PEP).

The awards presentation will take place on Sunday, November 12, 2023. A total of 37 students will receive five-year scholarships while 10 students will receive one-time grants. Of the 37, three are for the top performing applicants from each county and 14 are for the top performing applicants from each parish. The remaining 20 will be awarded to children of employees of The Jamaica National Group.

Claudine Allen (third right in back row), general manager of the JN Foundation

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, said that this year’s awards will be special, given that it’s the organisation’s 40th year of awarding academic achievement of the nation’s children.

“Such a longstanding tradition of supporting education and investing in the future of deserving young people is a testament to the values and commitment of The Jamaica National Group,” she said.

“We’ve not just given scholarships; we’ve invested in the potential of young minds. We’ve recognised the talents, ambitions, and dreams of countless individuals, and we’ve helped them take the first steps towards a better future,” she said.

Miss Allen noted that since 1983, The Jamaica National Group has been supporting the educational pursuits of hundreds of young people at both secondary and tertiary levels, many of whom have gone on to make their mark in society.

One such recipient is Dr Danielle Twiddle, who received a scholarship while attending Immaculate High School from 2008 to 2012. She said the scholarship was very helpful.

“It didn’t only help me monetarily but allowed my parents to have less on their plate to be able to help me, but I also met a few friends at the scholarship ceremony who I’m still in touch with today,” she said.

She noted that aside from the scholarship, The Jamaica National Group also provided other opportunities such as summer employment where she worked in the marketing department, which she said provided learning opportunities.

“It’s an honor being a recipient because it was a great assistance to me, and I had a standard to uphold academically. To the new JN Scholars, I would say work hard, have fun during your journey and never forget that no man is an island,” she said.

This year’s awards function will be held under the theme ‘Pursuing Excellence, Honouring Purpose’ and theguest speaker will be Tishauna Mullings, development practitioner, social entrepreneur and Chevening scholar.

Over the past 40 years, The Jamaica National Group has provided financial support for other educational and youth development initiatives, such as: The Gleaner’s Children’s Own Spelling Bee competition; child month initiatives undertaken by the National Child Month Committee;the Ministry of Education and Youth’s National Youth month activities.

The JN Foundation has also invested millions in the educational transformation initiatives such as the Centres of Excellence and iLead programmes- both targeted at improving leadership in rural-based underperforming schools.

Since 2001, the organisation has maintained a financial literacy programme, JN School Savers Programme, at the basic, primary, and secondary levels, to foster sound money management practices among children and since 2013 launched the JN Wise Aspiring Youth Programme, JN WAY, which promotes financial literacy and personal development skills for tertiary students and young adults.

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If You Can’t Avoid Debt, Be Smart About How You Borrow

Photo Caption: Shanna Kaye Wright Vaughn, youth and education programmes lead at the JN Foundation

Although it’s advisable for young adults to avoid debt, Shanna Kaye Wright Vaughn, youth and education programmes lead at the JN Foundation, said if they must borrow, they should be smart and intentional about how they borrow. She gave the advice recently in observation of ‘Get Smart About Credit Day’.

‘Get Smart About Credit Day’, observed on October 19, is an initiative adopted from the American Bankers’ Association (ABA) Foundation.

Mrs Wright Vaughn says when borrowing, young people must exercise caution and be very vigilant about managing debt. She noted that a properly managed loan can actually provide opportunities to improve one’s financial future.

“You can use credit to improve several areas of your life,” she said while noting that there are several loan options targeting different people.

She said young people should try to avoid taking on multiple loans as this may damage their financial situation, rather than help it. She also cautioned against using certain loans for lifestyle situations like parties, which provide no long-term financial benefit.

“We want young adults to think about their long-term goals, such as becoming a homeowner. It’s probably not wise for you to take out a loan to attend a party at this time, unless you can definitely afford to or if you are also saving which we also do encourage, because saving can be a backbone for your loan engagement and your loan conversations,” she said.

Mrs Wright Vaughn said one of the most important things people should consider when seeking a loan is what they have to lose, in the event they cannot repay. “As young people, sometimes we don’t have the assets, or security to back up a loan, and so an unsecured loan may be the better option. A lot of facilities will encourage unsecured loans to young people because they are easier to access,” she said.

She also recommended that people prepare a budget before taking on any loan, as they can negatively affect credit worthiness if they go “bad.”

While the concept of credit scores is still relatively new in Jamaica, it’s not novel and a bad credit score can impact an individual’s borrowing power and future business with other organisations. There are currently three credit bureaus in Jamaica and Jamaicans can access one free credit report each year.

“You can’t be earning, for argument’s sake, J$100,000 monthly and you’re paying back J$60,000 for one particular loan, while also having other things like a student loan or other family members to take care of,” she stressed.

She also urged people to not shy away from asking the ‘hard and fast’ questions before making a decision on any loan facility.

“It doesn’t matter if it seems like a weird question or a hard question. You may want to ask about interest rates if you’re not a numbers person, and you also want to look at the penalties for late or even early payments,” she noted.

The JN Foundation youth and education programmes lead said research is important, particularly for first time loan applicants. This, she said, will ensure people don’t find themselves paying more than they should, advising that it’s good to shop around. She said it’s also wise to read the fine print before signing a document.  

“You’ll want to ensure that there’s no penalty that’s going to affect any other areas of your life. Ensure that when you’re signing a particular document, it’s not saying that in the event something happens to you, there’s no insurance. All of these things must be a part of the conversation that you are having,” she warned.

‘Get Smart About Credit Day’ is celebrated on the third Thursday in October each year in the United States. The annual initiative by the ABA Foundation is aimed at pushing conversations and tips to guide youth towards better credit and savings habits. The day falls in line with the work of the JN Foundation, which has also been providing information, training, and mentorship to youth to help them make better financial decisions.

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JN Supports Team Jamaica Bickle’s Defibrillator in Schools Programme

Thirty-five Jamaican schools and sporting associations were the recipients of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) courtesy of Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB), a US-based non-profit organisation formed by a group of Jamaicans living in the United States.

The presentations were made to the institutions recently at a handover ceremony at the University of Technology, Jamaica in Papine, St Andrew.

Irwine Clare, founder of Team Jamaica Bickle, said, while making the presentations to the schools, that Jamaican athletes have represented the country at the highest level and should be supported.

“Our athletes have demonstrated to us their professionalism and discipline towards their craft. Therefore, as supporters of what they do, we have to step up our game. So, every year, we raise the bar,” he said of Team Jamaica Bickle.

“It is important that we invest in our youth, especially in sports, as one of the avenues for a youngster to self-actualise, because when we provide opportunities like that, it means they are steered away from other situations,” he pointed out as he reenforced his commitment to supporting student athletes.

Omar Wright (centre), Lead, Environment & Community Development Programmes at the JN Foundation presents an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) kit to Vicky Dawson, teacher at Merl Gove High School at the University of Technology on Thursday, October 18. Occasion was the distribution of AED machines to several educational institutions by Team Jamaica Bickle. Jamaica National Group was one of the sponsors of the initiative. Since 2014, Team Jamaica Bickle has donated more than 100 AED units to schools and trained more that 400 school administrators on how to use the kits. An AED is a portable medical device that analyzes a person’s heart rhythm during cardiac arrest.

Keith Wellington, president of Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), in expressing gratitude on behalf of the institutions, cautioned the schools not to keep the machines locked away, but that they should be kept close by during play in case of emergencies.

“On behalf of ISSA and all our schools, I want to say thank you to Team Jamaica Bickle and all its partners, including [The] Jamaica National Group, and all alumni associations and members of the diaspora who have made this effort to make this contribution,” he said.

Minister of Education and Youth, Fayval Williams, also expressed gratitude to Team Jamaica Bickle for supporting physical education in schools.

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the commendable effort put forth to support physical education and sports. Today, we gather to express our gratitude and appreciation to Team Jamaica Bickle for their invaluable contributions to our educational institutions,” she said.

Omar Wright, lead, Environment and Community Development Programmes at the JN Foundation, said that the Jamaica National Group was happy to partner with Team Jamaica Bickle.

“Jamaica National is committed to the wellbeing of our nation’s children and our athletes who represent us on the world stage. We recognise the importance of investing in the safety and health of our children, and through this partnership, we signal our commitment to corporate social responsibility by creating places and environments where our youth can be safe,” he said.

The Team Jamaica Bickle Defibrillator in Schools programme began in 2014 after the loss of St Jago High School student Cavahn McKenzie during a cross-country meet in Tobago. It spurred the entity into action as it realised that there was a need to have emergency resources readily available to schools, especially at sporting events.

Since 2014, the organisation has donated more than 100 AED units in schools and trained over 400 members of staff.

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JN, TEF Team Up to Help Artisans Build Financial Skills

Photo Caption: Camille McLeish (right), analyst, innovation and hospitality at the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF)makes a point to (from left), Stephen Bennette, chief executive officer of Rumcast; Lori-Rene, chief executive officer of Monis Voice and Rose Miller, manager, Strategic Empowerment at the JN Foundation. They were attending the capacity building training workshop organised by the JN Foundation in collaboration with the TEF.

Thirty-five artisans who will operate shops in the Artisan Village at the Falmouth Pier in Trelawny were exposed to capacity building training through workshops organised by the JN Financial Academy, in collaboration with the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).

Under the theme, ‘Going for Growth’, the workshops were held in Kingston and Falmouth on September 20 and 22. The artisans were exposed to brand development, product management and customer insights; leadership skills, pricing, and record keeping; as well as personal financial management training. Follow up sessions are to be held virtually, to assess impact and provide additional coaching.  

Rose Miller, manager, strategic empowerment programmes at the JN Foundation, said the objective was to expose the artisans to empowering material relevant to the growth and development of their enterprises. The focal areas chosen were identified by the artisans themselves based on an assessment survey conducted prior to the sessions.

The workshops also sought to raise participants’ awareness of the importance of financial education, discussed proven money management skills, such as budgeting and highlighted the importance of capturing, analyzing and utilizing data to create or improve products and services. The application of customer insights and analysis was also explored as a useful tactic in efforts to enhance customer experience.

Artisans show off their personal commitment forms to practice techniques to improve their business from lessons learned from the workshop. Also in the photo is Rose Miller (second right, back row), manager, strategic empowerment programmes at the JN Foundation.

“We exposed the artisans to practical ways of positioning their business for growth through the development of a strong brand and effective marketing utilizing mediums such as social media and other online platforms.  Participants were guided as they spent time creating their personal budgets, engaged in a pricing exercise, and creating the ideal persona for their products and services.  At the end of the workshops, they signalled their intention to adopt several of the habits learned, which will drive business success, by signing to My Personal Commitments,” Mrs. Miller disclosed.

Tarik Henry, sculpture artist from the Mighty Gully Youth Project in St. Catherine, described the workshop as very useful and informative.

“I learned a lot. It is a good experience. I have never heard some of this information before such as how to budget and manage the finances of the business. I’m now more equipped in terms of how to manage the finances of my business and how to practice good record keeping.”

Kemoy Morgan, chief executive officer of Purple Jade, which specialises in handmade jewellery, said that the workshop provided information in a manner that was easy to understand.

“I am more motivated and encouraged to apply what I have learned to my business. The information was not full of jargon or technical language that I could not understand. I feel empowered to apply it and look forward to seeing growth in my business,” she said noting that she learnt a lot about branding and marketing of her business, which was presented by the JN Group Marketing department.

Loi-Rene Letts, chief executive officer of Moni Voice, which produces crotchet art, said her key take-aways were on pricing and budgeting, which was presented by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).

“It was impactful. It was a lot of helpful information and take aways that I can implement in my business and actively use to improve my business,” she said, adding that she was grateful for the focus especially on how to price her products so that the business makes a profit and is not operating at a loss.

Carol Rose Brown, director, Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation at the TEF, expressed gratitude to the JN Foundation, other presenters – the JN Group Marketing department, JN Bank and the JBDC for the workshop and the knowledge imparted to the artisans.

“We want to thank them for coming to guide us and sharing this information,” she said, pointing out that the Artisan Village is scheduled to open at the end of October.

This Artisan Village is expected to become a cultural and economic landmark, offering a rich tapestry of indigenous crafts, entertainment, and opportunities for local artists.

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‘Debating Pulled Me Out of Depression’

Photo Caption: Ravonne Thomas-Matthews (right), JADE special projects manager joins Claudine Allen (third from left), general manager, JN Foundation and Germaine Barrett (third from right), JADE founder and executive director, for a photo during JADE’s courtesy call on JN Foundation at the JN Group corporate offices in September. Joining them for the photo were (from left) Matthew White, JADE Secondary Level Gold Club member and Head Boy at Cornwall College in St James; Shanna Kaye Wright Vaughn, JN Foundation youth and education programme lead; and Rushana Jarrett, JADE wellness manager

For many people college was an exciting time, as it afforded enough freedom to be an adult, but without the grown-up responsibilities. However, Ravonne Thomas-Matthews’ story is quite the opposite.

Ravonne, who is now part of the leadership team at the Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment (JADE), said college was not a fun experience. He describes his time at The University of Technology (UTECH), Jamaica as “the harshest time” of his life, due to personal factors.

Ravonne said he struggled with depression while pursuing his studies and was only pulled away from his frustration and sadness through debating. “It is not an exaggeration to say debating changed my life,” he shared.

His first experience as a debater came in his fourth year at UTECH, at an inter-faculty debating competition but his result was disappointing. “I came dead last in that debate because debating is more than speaking lovely,” he conceded.

Ravonne Thomas-Matthews

“I joined [the competition] just for the fun of it and I thought I did really well. I was eloquent in my speech, and everyone was clapping and cheering, and some people were encouraging me to join the debating society.”

He said that whole experience motivated him to learn more about the art of debating and to improve his skills. As a result, he began attending regular meetings of the UTECH Debating and Public Speaking Society, where he participated in team training sessions.

“I found that I enjoyed it a lot,” he said, noting also that this new-found love saw him passing up on potentially life changing opportunities.

“I remember one session there were prospective employers outside for a career workshop that was happening simultaneously with debate training, and I prioritised debate training over going outside,” he said.

Ravonne’s drive and passion for debating would later earn him a place on his school’s team to the World University Debating Championships (WUDC) in Thailand in 2020. The WUDC is regarded as the largest international debating tournament and one of the largest annual international student events.  At the competition the UTECH team was ranked the top performing institution in the Caribbean and Latin American region.

The opportunity for Ravonne to participate came through Germaine Barrett, founder and executive director of JADE.

“I just want to thank him for that opportunity. We went up against the ‘Oxfords’ and the ‘Harvards’ of the world and I got ‘myself handed to me’, but it was an absolutely amazing experience. I came back to Jamaica, and I used all that I learned abroad to win every tournament I entered after that,” he said.

His list of accomplishments includes winning the Tertiary Division of JADE’s e-Debates and the inaugural Eagles’ Debate Invitational (EDIV), both in 2020.

Ravonne said while he doesn’t get many opportunities to debate now, he still believes he is happiest when debating. “Debating is something that transcends psychology and the opportunity that debate provides is not only available at high school, nor only to head prefects. It was available to a random guy, depressed in the final year of university, and it can open doors for you.”

Ravonne was part of the JADE team that paid a courtesy call on the leadership of the JN Foundation at the JN Group Corporate Office in New Kingston in September. The meeting, which came ahead of National Debaters Week, also included Germaine Barrett and students from JADE’s Secondary Level Gold Club.

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, who welcomed the JADE team and students, commended Ravonne and the other members for pursuing debating, which she said continues to “unearth serious talent.”

It’s stories like Ravonne’s which convinces the JN Foundation general manager- herself a former high school debater- that debating can be an effective intervention and educational tool.

“Debating can sharpen critical thinking skills, build characters, and foster collaboration and respect among peers. It encourages sustainable development and for us at the JN Foundation, we embrace and nurture longevity,” she opined, reflecting on her own journey at the Glenmuir High School in Clarendon.

The JN Foundation is supporting JADE in its work to entrench debating in school curricula in Jamaica. Just recently, JADE presented a strategic plan to the Ministry of Education and Youth for the phased development of the activity in secondary schools across the country. The plan is designed to help Jamaica align with other nations that have integrated debating in their school curricula.

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Debating Can Strengthen Our Music and Culture

Photo Caption: Claudine Allen (left), general manager, JN Foundation in conversation with Germaine Barrett, founder and executive director of the Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment (JADE), and Rushana Jarrett, special projects manager, JADE, during a courtesy call on the JN Foundation at the JN Group’s corporate offices in New Kingston on Tuesday, September 19. The visit, which also involved members of JADE’s Gold Club in high schools across the country, follows on JADE’s most recent accomplishment. High School students coached by the association won the Rollins College Great Debate in the United States in 2022. The students’ participation was sponsored by the JN Foundation. Barett shared information about JADE’s plans for the upcoming National Debaters Week, October 7-14 which includes a launch on September 28. The association is preparing a sustainability plan to promote debates as a healthy form of public discourse and empowerment. 

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, is mooting that Jamaica can strengthen its music and culture by honing and engendering the skill of debating.

She made the remark during a courtesy call by members of the Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment (JADE) on the JN Foundation at the JN Corporate Office in New Kingston on Tuesday (September 19).

Ms Allen, a trained communication specialist, called for more research to be done in the area.

“We just need to get more people to understand that it’s ok to use words to express themselves clearly without resorting to vulgarity and violence,” said Ms Allen. “You can use your words to have productive [‘clashes’] and that is something that can be very useful in helping our music and culture to be more harmonious and peaceful,” she added.

Zoning in on dancehall clashes, which is a major part of Jamaica’s culture, Ms Allen said the fundamentals of debating can help performers improve their lyrics and performances.   

“It can help with mediation, conflict resolution and even the gender issues, which are emerging out of dancehall.” she reasoned.

Germaine Barrett, founder and executive director of JADE, agreed and said he would welcome the collaboration with JN Foundation to pitch the idea to the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport “so they can see the intersectionality of what we are trying to do [with debate].”

He said his organisation is planning to lead further research to better understand how lyrics are crafted and what makes genres, such as dancehall, alluring in the Jamaican context. He added that there are also plans to launch a sustainability plan to promote debating across the country as a productive and healthy exchange.

Last year, JN Foundation sponsored the participation of a team of high school students, coached by JADE, that won the prestigious Rollins College Great Debate in the United States. One of the members from that team, Ronaldhino McLean, is among the high school students from the JADE Secondary Level Gold Club. He was also present at JN’s offices on Tuesday for the courtesy call.

The visit by JADE was also used to set the scene for National Debaters Week scheduled for October 7 to 14, as proclaimed by Governor General, His Excellency Sir Patrick Allen. The week will be officially launched at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Faculty of Law on September 28.

Mr Barrett said JADE has several activities planned to commemorate the week, including a church service, zonal competitions for high schools across the island and the Caribbean Conference on Dialogue and Debate, which will be held at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

During the week, JADE will host representatives from iDebate Rwanda, who, Mr Barrett said, will be sharing their own history and culture as an organisation.

The week will culminate with the JADE ‘Peppa Pot’ event that will showcase the creative skills of members within the organisation. The full list of events can be found on JADE’s website at myjade.org.

“National Debaters Week is a concentrated national focus on debating as a tool for solving many of the social challenges that we face as a country. We tend to resort to violence when we are upset with someone and that can be solved with debate. Debate also allows us to share ideas. We want to use the week to promote the benefits of debating and debunk certain myths about this activity,” he shared.

JN Foundation has committed to supporting JADE with its week of activities and its overall mission to advance debating, public speaking and critical thinking in Jamaica. JADE, a non-governmental organisation, was established in 2014.

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JADE Advocating for Integration of Debating in School Curriculum

Photo Caption: Germaine Barrett (center), founder and executive director of the Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment (JADE), leads a conversation with Shanna Kaye Wright Vaughn (left), youth and education programmes lead at JN Foundation and Dr Kasan Troupe, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and Youth, at the launch event for National Debaters Week at the Faculty of Law at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies on September 28. Dr Troupe committed to having further dialogue with JADE about the future of debating in schools. JN Foundation is supporting JADE with its activities to mark National Debaters Week, which runs from October 7 to 14. 

The Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment (JADE) has taken another step towards advancing debating locally, with the handing over of a strategic plan to the Ministry of Education and Youth for the phased development of the activity in secondary schools across the country.

Germaine Barrett, founder and executive director of JADE, presented the document to Dr. Kasan Troupe, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and Youth, during the launch event for National Debaters’ Week (NDW) 2023 at the Faculty of Law on the Mona campus of The University of the West Indies on September 28. The handover follows JADE’s meeting with the leadership of the JN Foundation in September, where Mr. Barrett first revealed the plans. At that meeting, Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, had emphasized how the art of debating could help solve some societal issues.

Speaking at the launch event to a packed audience of high school students and other specially invited guests, Mr. Barrett shared that the document formed part of the organisation’s plans to get debating to the next level.

He also used the opportunity to call for a meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Education to have further dialogue on the plan and to determine next steps.

“We are requesting a meeting with the Ministry so we can have a conversation to see how we can get this infused into the schools and develop world renowned debating clubs,” he said.

The JADE founder and executive director said he hopes the plan and discussions will help Jamaica catch up to other countries which are already executing a more sustainable approach for debating in schools.

“When you travel overseas, debating is extraordinary, it is ingrained within the curriculum of schools, and I want to challenge the Ministry of Education and Youth to think about doing that so that we can get more critical thinkers, effective communicators, [develop] better conflict management and all of those beautiful things that can be derived from debate.”

Dr. Troupe committed to meeting with JADE and said the public “will be hearing more from the ministry about a bigger investment in debating.”

The permanent secretary, who was also the guest speaker for the National Debaters’ Week launch event, said the ministry is committed to revolutionising the school curriculum and making a difference with the learning programmes for students. Pointing to the new National Standards Curriculum, she noted that it has been reviewed and endorsed by the top performing countries in education, Finland and Singapore.

The permanent secretary also commended JADE for its work in advancing debating in the island, as well as the students for having an interest in debating, describing the art as a critical skill for leaders.

“There are no losses in a competition of debating. You can either win or learn, you can never lose,” she said.

National Debaters’ Week (NDW) 2023 will run from October 7- 14. JADE is executing a series of activities to celebrate the week, with the support of the JN Foundation. The week’s activities include the Caribbean Conference on Dialogue and Debate (CCDD), which is scheduled to be held at the University of Technology, Jamaica on October 12.

For the full list of events and to register to participate in the activities, persons can visit myjade.org.

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‘Create an Environment Where Helmets are Protective and not Decorative’ – Claudine Allen 

Claudine Allen, the general manager of the JN Foundation, says while compliance is vital to increasing helmet usage among cyclists and pillions in Jamaica, simply achieving greater use of the gears alone will not safeguard against injury and fatalities.   

“Behaviour change is a part of the solution, but we have to create an environment where the helmets that are available are protective, not decorative and are going to save lives,” the JN executive underscored. 

Ms Allen made the statement during a courtesy call recently on Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Daryl Vaz. She was accompanied by Aggie Krasnolucka, programmes director of the FIA Foundation, an international charity, working closely with grant partners to shape projects and advocate to secure change in policy and practice.  

Ms Krasnolucka was on a visit to Jamaica to sign an agreement with the National Road Safety Council and the JN Foundation to implement the National Helmet Wearing Coalition Project, which seeks to increase helmet wearing among riders and pillions, increase the use of approved helmets, as well as stimulate a local market for helmets. 

Ms Allen said the National Helmet Wearing Coalition, which comprises stakeholders in road safety and mobility, will assist in addressing the widespread issues pertaining to the regulatory standards for helmets and enforcement, as well as awareness among cyclists and pillion. 

In his response, Minister Vaz said a public education campaign is necessary to promote helmet wearing. 

“A big part of any initiative would be the public education component because these youngsters do not listen easily and it is very difficult to get them to comply,” he said as he commended the initiative to be undertaken. 

Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council, noted that while motorcycle deaths have been trending downward since 2021, the figures are still a major concern. 

“It has been coming down, but it is still a third of national statistics, so that is still significant,” she pointed out. 

The National Helmet Wearing Coalition Project was established under a three-year agreement valued at $750,000 euro last month. 

The first phase of the project will commence with the execution of research to provide baseline data that will inform the work of the project going forward. A comprehensive stakeholder mapping and engagement exercise will then be undertaken to examine and understand the situation relating to helmets and helmet wearing in Jamaica. 

According to the National Road Safety Council, since 2015, approximately 1,238 motorcyclists up to September 13 have been killed on roads in Jamaica.  All were men. Data from the Ministry of Transport and the Jamaica Constabulary Force indicate that these deaths account for approximately 30 per cent of total deaths caused by road crashes in Jamaica over the period, and that over 90 per cent of those who died were not wearing a helmet.  

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Students, Fine Art Photographer Winners in JN Foundation Jamaica 60 Photo Competition 

Photo Caption: Earl Jarrett (second right in back), chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group and Claudine Allen (at right, front row) take a group photo with winners of the JN Foundation Jamaica 60 Photo Competition – Gerald Gordon (second left, front row), first place winner in the Greatness in People Category and Advocacy Award, he also placed third in the Greatness in Community Category; Kaodi Allen (third left), winner of the Greatness in Community Category; Sharlene Higgins (fourth left, front row), who placed second in the Greatness in Community Category and Tevaughn Gordon, brother of Joshua Gordon who won the People’s Choice Award and placed second in the Greatness in People Category. Sharing in the moment are Radcliffe ‘Ruddy’ Roye (left in the back), photo journalist and one of the trainers; Stuart Reeves (second left, back row), one of the trainers; Shanti Persaud (third right, back row), one of  the judges and Omar Wright, lead, Environment and Community Development Programmes at the JN Foundation. Occasion was the awards ceremony which took place at the Corporate Offices of the Jamaica National Group on Oxford Road in Kingston on August 30.

Seventeen-year-old, Kodia Allen, a sixth form student at Manchester High School; Gerald Gordon, fine art photographer; and Joshua Gordon, a third-year student at the University of Technology, Jamaica, emerged winners of the JN Foundation Jamaica 60 photo competition. 

The awards ceremony took place recently at the JN Group Corporate offices on Oxford Road in Kingston. 

While winning a major competition of this nature is not new to Gerald Gordon and Joshua Gordon, who are both unrelated, this is the first time Kodia has emerged a winner. 

“I feel elated, and it has taught me patience. The patience was worth it as I came out on top and I’m excited,” said Kodia, winner in the ‘Greatness in Community’ category. 

Her winning image, entitled ‘Uncountable Badges’ captured her friends helping the newly-elected Jamaica Prefects Association (JPA) president, Gabrielle Bryan, with her badges on the joyous occasion. She said for her that moment of friendship and unity was a very powerful form of advocacy.  

Parris Lyew-Ayee (right), chairman of the JN Foundation is fascinated by one of the photos on display at the JN Foundation Jamaica 60 Photo Competition awards ceremony. Looking on is Radcliffe ‘Ruddy’ Roye, Jamaican documentary photographer.

“I was inspired by friendship at its finest. I followed my friend to support her in being elected JPA president and just seeing the process, especially behind the scenes, I just decided not to wait on the limelight but take the picture behind the scenes, working up to the moment that we all looked forward to seeing,” she said underscoring the value of friendship. 

Kodia’s words of advice to persons interested in photography are simple- ‘always be armed with your camera’. She hopes to, one day, take up photography as a business. 

Gerald Gordon is not new to winning. He was the winner of the Prime Minister’s Calendar Photo Opportunity Competition in 2021 and The Gleaner’s Capturing Kingston Photo Competition in 2018. He is however still excited about his latest accomplishment. 

“I’m lost for words, but I’m bursting with joy inside,” he said shortly after being named the winner of the ‘Greatness in People’ category for his piece ‘My Honest Bread’. He also received two other awards, winning the Advocacy Award with the same entry and was placed third in the Greatness in Community category for his submission, ‘The Future of Sports’. 

Earl Jarrett (right), chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group congratulates Kaodi Allen (centre) , winner of the Greatness in Community Category and her mother, Claudia Allen.

His winning shot, ‘My Honest Bread’ captures Venessa, a vendor from Greater Portmore, St Catherine, and her daughter pushing her stocked cart of goods. Both mother and daughter routinely perform this task just before Venessa’s daughter goes to school each day.  

“I was in a car with my friends returning home, and when I saw the scene, I said to my friend ‘stop the car’ and when I saw the shot, I said ‘this is it’. In fact, I took the photo on the morning of the deadline for submission of the photo,” he informed noting that Vanessa’s action of earning an honest living was a form of advocacy. 

Gordon, who has a photography business, said that the knowledge gained from participating in the competition will help him to produce better quality work. 

“Photography is my bread and butter, and I’m happy to have gained further knowledge about my craft through the masterclasses conducted by the trainers. My mind is now rushing with ideas and the knowledge that was imparted,” he said.  

“As a fine arts photographer, myself, I dive into the theory of photography telling stories through my lens, and I’m seeing it from a different perspective now,” he said. 

Joshua Gordon, who had previously emerged second place winner of the JN Resolution ProjectCOVID-19 Jamaica Photography Competition in 2020/21, said that he was happy to be a winner again. He won the People’s Choice award with his piece entitled ‘Salute to 60’, which captured a cadet from Clarendon College as he raised his hand to his head in salute at an event to mark the high school’s Founder’s Day on February 2 this year.  

“This image stood out mainly because of the significance of the ceremony, the patriotism, and the angle. The cadet’s salute represents us Jamaicans showing respect and love to our country, which was simply iconic,” he said. 

Congratulating the winners, Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, expressed hope that the competition would spark more advocacy for causes that will positively impact the country. 

“We wanted this competition not to be just something that you came across on social media where you enter, and you win some money, but we wanted to leave with you a lesson. We wanted to build the capacity for the skill and art of photography but also advocacy,” she said, noting that the competition attracted close to 500 entries. 

“We hope that you heard something that will reassure you and give you hope. But we hope you heard something that made you uncomfortable and feed that thing inside you to bring you out of the box that you are in and to tell your story differently,” she said, noting that the competition provided a platform for the participants to amplify their voice and advocacy. 

The JN Foundation launched the Jamaica 60 Photo Competition in 2022 in celebration of Jamaica’s 60th year of Independence. The competition invited persons passionate about photography and community advocacy to enter.  

The aim of the competition was to equip and train Jamaicans in the art of photography and advocacy. The competition focused on celebrating Jamaica’s 60th year of independence, under the theme Greatness Through the Lens, an ode to the national theme Re-igniting a Nation for Greatness.   

First place winners received cash prize of $100,000, second place $50,000 and third place $25,000. Other winners in the competition were Javan Sutherland who placed third in the ‘Greatness in People’ category and Sharlene Higgins who placed second in the ‘Greatness in Community’ category. 

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