British Council, VM Foundation partner on $85-m high school programme
The Sunday Observer
March 18, 2018
by Kimone Thompson
British High Commissioner to Jamaica Asif Ahmad (right) engages president and CEO of VM Group Courtney Campbell and Senior Education Officer Sophia Forbes Hall at the launch of the Social Enterprise in Secondary Schools programme at the Pegasus last Monday.
Two non-governmental/charitable organisations that operate locally will spend £480,000 — equivalent to some $85 million — over the next three years training high school students to develop and run their own social enterprises.
The project, called Social Enterprise in Secondary Schools, is the brainchild of the British Council, the UK’s international NGO for cultural relations and educational opportunities. It is partnering with Victoria Mutual Foundation, the Ministry of Education, and UK consultancy Real Ideas in the effort.
Programme manager for social enterprise and youth engagement at British Council Damion Campbell explained that the programme was designed to bridge the skills gap among school leavers, while providing solutions to varying social problems in the local community.
Preliminary training of six master trainers and 48 high school teachers according to a set of materials developed by Real Ideas started last week Monday. The teachers are expected to transfer the learning to their students through tools such as field trips and various activities related to identifying social need sin their communities and setting up relevant businesses. The training will also focus on transferring the six core or deep learning skills identified by the British Council as crucial to employability.
Six schools — representing 1,800 students — have already been selected for the first year of the programme. The second year is expected to reach 4,000 students from 14 schools, and year three is expected to involve 10,000 students from over 30 schools. The total expected reach over the three years is nearly 16,000 students from grades seven to nine and 272 teachers from 50 schools.
“[It’s an] opportunity to gain the 21st century skills needed to excel in an interconnected world,” British Council country manager Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick said of the programme.
“Social enterprise is important to Jamaica because it can help students develop their core job-readiness skills and assist them in the transition from school into the workplace. But it is also a vehicle for developing and honing citizenship skills in our young people,” Jacobs-Bonnick said at the programme launch at Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston last week.