By: Derrick Scott
NEW YORK – The Jamaica Diaspora Education Task Force (JDETF) has launched a campaign called “Pledge 2 Build”, to raise US $2million dollars over the next three months to support education in Jamaica.
The fundraising effort was officially launched by Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks at a reception held at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington DC on Wednesday, October 26, 2016.
Funds derived from this effort will go towards upgrading the infrastructure of early childhood and primary schools in Jamaica. A portion of the proceeds will be used for professional development and training of teachers at various levels of the educational system.
In launching the fundraising campaign, Ambassador Marks urged members of the Diaspora to support this worthwhile venture as it seeks to improve the education system. “I encourage all gathered here today to support this important drive and I’m confident that with the strength and determination that defines us as Jamaicans, we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to”, Ambassador Marks said.
The Jamaica Envoy added that the Diaspora would be helping our country, through education, to be the place of choice to work, live and raise a family, which is in keeping with the national development plan of Jamaica.
Ambassador Marks pointed out that since its inception in 2013 the JDETF has become a model for Diaspora engagement in the area of education. Its unique approach has been one of fact-finding, partnership, integration and implementation.
She added that in 2014 the JDETF staged its first education summit and the taskforce has undertaken a number of projects to include the training of teachers, providing scholarships and laptops to students, all of which help to fill gaps in the current education system in Jamaica.
Ambassador Marks pointed out that as part of JDETF’s continued engagement and partnership with stakeholders such as the Ministry of Education and the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA), the organization has reached out to the Diaspora across the globe to encourage members to respond in a more tangible way to help improve educational infrastructure at the early childhood and primary levels.
“I am heartened by the love of country that so many of you in the Diaspora have demonstrated by the many projects you have been engaged in right across the United States over these many years, all for the benefit of Jamaica”, the Ambassador said.
The Jamaican Envoy lauded the chairman of the JDETF, Mr. Leo Gilling as well as members of his board for undertaking this outstanding initiative.
In his remarks, Leo Gilling pointed out that the fund raising drive would be launched at the various Jamaican missions in North America, Canada and the United Kingdom. He said that one feature of the fund raising campaign would be an inter-parish competition among Jamaicans across the globe. Donors will compete to raise funds for their respective parishes. Mr. Gilling said that at the end of the campaign a parish winner would be declared.
He said the official campaign would commence on November 1 and run through January 31, 2017 and is part of a larger fund raising plan envisioned by the JDETF that will see the Jamaican Diaspora community of 3 million strong playing a greater role in the development and transformation of education in Jamaica.
Mr. Gilling added that both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith and Education Minister, Senator Ruel Reid have endorsed the fund raising campaign.