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JAMAICA: Stakeholders Grateful for Ministry of Education’s Robotics Workshop

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#MontegoBay, December 31, 2021 – Stakeholders and participants in the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information’s robotics workshop are hoping the new year will bring another staging of the programme, as they have deemed it a fulfilling and worthwhile project which teaches a valuable skills.

The robotics initiative formed part of the Ministry’s Enrichment Programme which was designed to provide students who perform differently from their peers (whether significantly above or below), with instructional experiences that both extend and build.

There are students whose social needs are also not met in the classroom and others that are also possible gifted under-achievers.   In noting certain behaviours, the practitioners who taught in the programme looked for opportunities to provide these pupils with specialised services to assist with their growth for the primary years.

For the summer school, children were placed in performance tiers, a number being in tier three which suggested that they were weak.  The ministry took the decision that regardless of the tier they were diagnosed to be in, they could benefit from these extension activities that stretch the thinking and excite the hands.

Due to the number of children who needed to be assisted, three schools were chosen – Central Branch Primary in Kingston, Golden Spring Primary in St. Andrew, and Corinaldi Avenue Primary in St. James.

Some 32 students were engaged in the initiative with sessions held in groups of eight.

In an interview with JIS News, Principal (Acting) of Corinaldi Avenue Primary Deon Stern-Anglin, stated that the students thoroughly enjoyed the programme.

“They enjoyed themselves; this programme was used to reach all learners…it was a good programme. We would have wanted it for a longer period, but it was an interesting programme. I just want to thank the Ministry of Education region four… This is a school that builds whole persons because we believe in the holistic child, so we take on to these programmes as they come, we are ready to be part of it,” Mrs. Stern-Anglin said.

Principal of Central Branch Primary, Michael Sutherland told JIS News that the children were fully engaged throughout their session.

“Even though it was a long day, they [the students] never seemed to be tired of what they were doing, they loved it, and this is something that I wish that we could have throughout the year in the school, because this is the practical area that most children have interest in, especially our boys. They love this sort of hands-on experience and I just wish that other schools can get to experience the joys they experienced in this workshop,” Mr. Sutherland expressed.

He added that the children who participated were “very focused and [even though it was a long [session], they never seemed bored or even tired, they were really excited…. I would love to have an ongoing summer programme like this, it would be nice to have something like this as a club in the school.”

Children from grades three to six participated in the initiative at the school.

The principal noted that his biggest takeaway from the programme was “no matter how challenged students are, there is always something to grab their interest, and this was one of them.”

Twelve-year-old student of Central Branch, Annabelle Dias, told JIS News that she loved the workshop during the summer period, as the COVID-19 pandemic has been very difficult for some of the students who participated.

Fellow student Vernon Llewelyn stated that he enjoyed looking out for the younger participants during the initiative, however, his favourite part of the programme was putting robotic cars together.

Young Vernon, who was awarded the most outstanding student of the programme, told JIS News that he was proud to receive the honour, and noted that he is seeking to hold on to the title should the programme be held next year.

Enrichment Programme Specialist at the Ministry of Education Shauner Murray, who spearheaded the initiative, noted that the children who participated shone and excelled despite any academic weaknesses.

“That’s the value of enrichment, because in a regular classroom, they would not have been selected for an activity like that because nobody would think they could be exposed to programming although they didn’t do it in detail, nobody would think they could assimilate all of this,” she said.

Ms. Murray also noted that the ministry conducted the programme in partnership with the National Science Programme and Carlong Publishers. Students from the University of Technology (UTech) volunteered as instructors for the initiative.

She noted that Carlong Publishers, who was one of the major sponsors, donated some US$1,000 to purchase all the model cars and robotics supplies. Other supplies were donated by the National Science Programme.

Ms. Murray also told JIS News that enrichment clubs will be placed in the three participating schools, “with enough resources for the children to actually do model cars, robotics and get more involved in auto mechanics.”

“That was not initially our plan but seeing how interested the students are we are now looking at [it]. We want to get mentors for these clubs, people who will be with them online once per month and work with them,” she stated.

Ms. Murray noted that she was not sure if the robotics summer programme will become an annual event.

 

Contact: Serena Grant

Release: JIS

 

 

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RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure

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#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.

Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.

The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.

Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe.  In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm.  I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

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List of Demands for UK, presented by Overseas Territories at May 4-6 meetings

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#UnitedKingdom, May 19, 2022 – Speakers of the House from Overseas Territories in the Caribbean met with the UK House of Commons in the first ever Speaker-led conference to discuss issues relating to governance, climate and visibility in the House of Commons and provide the UK with an idea of what they say is necessary for OTs to survive.

The meeting held on May 4th to 6th was attended by Speakers from Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, the UK House of Commons and a representative from Gibraltar.

A communique released after the event made it clear that democracy was of utmost import to the small island states.

“We reaffirmed the central role played by legislatures in democratic life, our commitment to the principles of democracy in our legislatures, the sacredness of democracy and the need for partnership to sustain it. As our legislatures bring together all components of society, they are the cornerstones of democratic governance; they represent the wills and expressions of the people through scrutiny and democratic process,” it said.

Governance

In order to support the legislature the OTs requested that the UK government provide funding for them to have a ‘dedicated building in which to carry out its activities and duties’ as well as investment in the training of officials and sharing of best practices. The Speakers also requested that funding be provided for any constitutional reviews should the issue arise.

To ensure that the overseas territories have a voice in legislation in the UK that affects them the UK Speaker promised to explore opportunities for OTs to scrutinise these laws . Additionally the UK Speaker said the house of commons was willing to help facilitate parliamentary representation of the Overseas Territories at the UK Parliament if the territories decided they wanted to.

The Speakers requested that outside of this the UK provide detailed Impact Assessments for any bill that would affect them

Climate Change 

Aptly described as a climate emergency in the communique the speakers noted that while the OTs were bastions of nature  the volatility with which climate change was occurring would directly impact overseas territories first and worst.

“The Overseas Territories are custodians of internationally important habitats, which span the globe from the Antarctic to the Caribbean, the South Atlantic to the Pacific and the Indian Oceans with different geographical challenges…We recognise that the Overseas Territories have multiple levels of vulnerability including economic constraints and challenges of infrastructure which mean the impacts of the climate emergency can result in huge environmental disasters and economic impacts” it said.

Thus the countries called for long term, strategic action by the UK including dedicated and transparent funding to replace lost EU funding caused by Brexit. They also thanked the UK for their commitment to biodiversity.

The territories ended on a firm note emphasising their right to self-determination saying, “We reiterate our shared belief that the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, as enshrined in the UN Charter, applies to the peoples of the Overseas Territories.”

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JAMAICA: Bust of Labour Movement Activist Agnes Bernard Unveiled

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#Jamaica, May 19, 2022 – A bust of Agnes “Aggie” Bernard, a stalwart in Jamaica’s labour movement, has been erected at the Kingston Craft Market located downtown.

The sculpture, which rests atop an existing monument in her honour, was commissioned in partnership between the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

It was unveiled during a ceremony on Wednesday (May 18) to kick off Workers’ Week from May 15 to 23 under the theme ‘Repositioning Jamaica’s Labour Market post COVID-19’.

Speaking at the unveiling, Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, said that Ms. Bernard was one of the foremost pioneering women activists in Jamaica’s labour movement during the 1938 labour riots that were pivotal in Jamaica’s political development.

“We honour one of the truly outstanding women of Jamaica, a heroine in her own right. Aggie was truly one of the great and faithful servants of the labour movement in Jamaica,” she said.

“At the age of 28 in 1938, she was there when Alexander Bustamante, who had decided to lead the workers, and Garveyite, St. William Grant, were arrested fighting for the cause of striking workers. Seeing all of this, Aggie was moved to lend a hand to the cause and what a mighty hand that was,” Ms. Grange recounted.

The Minster said that the decision not only changed Aggie’s life, but it had a signal effect on the labour movement in Jamaica.

“She used up all the money she had at the time, the grand sum of five shillings and sixpence to buy bread, coffee and sugar for the hungry strikers. Admiring and supporting her move, sympathisers stepped in and gave money for food,” Ms. Grange said.

In 1976, Aggie was honoured with the Order of Distinction in recognition of her outstanding service to the trade union movement and her contribution to nationhood. The Organization of American States (OAS) also awarded her a special certificate of merit. She died on October 7, 1980 and was given an official funeral and buried at National Heroes Park.

Ms. Grange said that the bust of Aggie Bernard is a tribute to the workers of Jamaica and is one of the Legacy Projects for the country’s diamond jubilee.

For his part, Labour Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, in a speech read by Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Dione Jennings, said Workers’ Week recognises workers across Jamaica for their unwavering contribution to the economic growth and development of the society.

He said that this year’s theme recognises that “if Jamaica is to recover lost ground and continue on the road to economic prosperity, it will be the Jamaican worker who will have to redouble our efforts, in every sector, to improve our productivity and increase our earning power”.

The Minister noted that Jamaica has come a long way since the devastating labour riots in 1938, when the workers took action all over the island to press for improved working conditions.

Those actions, he said, led to the establishment of the Minimum Wage Act and a Labour Department, which was the precursor to the current Ministry of Labour, both in 1938.

“No longer do we, as a people, have to resort to rioting, strikes and other counter-productive measures to have our voices heard. We now settle our grievances by engaging an established conciliatory process,” Mr. Samuda said.

“In spite of the recent cases of unrest, the peace and industrial harmony which we generally enjoy has come at great cost. And so, we gather here, at this, the Monument to the Workers of 1938, which stands as a reminder of the bravery and tenacity of the workers and leaders, who risked their lives to [improve] the condition of labour in Jamaica. The nation salutes you, our unsung heroes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, said the Government respects and appreciates the rights of “every single Jamaican to advocate for better and improved working conditions”.

“The Government is not lost as to the concerns of the workers. The Government is committed in every way to ensure that the workers are rewarded in a meaningful way,” Mr. McKenzie said.

 

Release: Latonya Linton

Release: JIS

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