JISA, Congress WBN partner to deliver values to Jamaican schools: By Gerard Best
An innovative education sector initiative in Jamaica is focused on leadership development as a key to raising professionals and students equipped to lead the Caribbean into the future.
At the centre of the project is a Values-Based Education programme, commonly called VBE, which promotes the development of character alongside academic achievement.
“The more I reflect is the more I become convinced that values-based education is the only way to build a better nation,” said Lorna Downie, Principal of Wolmer’s Preparatory School.
Wolmer’s is one of six schools taking part in the pilot, along with GenesisAcademy, Charagape Childcare, Kinder and Elementary School, Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf and Northgate High School.
Launched in September 2014, the VBE pilot program is part of larger memorandum of understanding between JISA and Congress WBN.
“The VBE delivers a visionary and ethical framework that applies to educators and students both locally and regionally,” said Dr. Marlon Jameson, Director of Global Education Initiatives at Congress WBN, a unique faith-based non-profit.
With operations in over 95 countries, Congress WBN runs leadership development and holistic education initiatives that draw on its global experience and resource base.
Jameson, the lead facilitator of the project, explained the importance of placing holistic development at the centre of the education system.
“If we don’t have a well-defined values base, our education system will deliver knowledge without effectively developing character. This can produce people empowered to act in their own self-interest without due regard for the greater good,” Jameson said.
“Through our collaboration with Congress WBN, our priority is to optimise the impact and output of values-based education in our institutions,” said Wesley Boynes, President of JISA.
The programme will strengthen the values-based paradigm to which many schools in Jamaica already subscribe, said Dian Thompson, Principal of the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf.
Thompson said the project “has already added greater structure to what is currently in place at the school.”
In August, the VBE pilot moves into its second phase, which will focus on envisioning teaching and support staff.
“We are greatly encouraged by the tangible and positive impact the program is already having, and we are looking forward to sharing our experiences and the lessons we are learning with our fellow educators,” Boynes said.
The programme’s final two phases will focus on engaging students and mobilising the wider community.
Boynes added, “We are committed to ensuring that this pilot delivers resources that can be of benefit to the wider education sector in Jamaica and across the Caribbean.