Twenty-one Early Childhood Institutions (ECIs) in rural areas on the island will receive a donation of $2.2 million from the Usain Bolt Foundation. The funds will be used to help teachers with the interventions needed with parents during the COVID-19 pandemic while their children are at home. The Early Childhood Commission (ECC) reported that each one of the ECIs in rural areas will receive a laserjet printer, four print cartridges, five reams of paper, one hand-washing station, one thermometer, one storage bin for learning resources, and one step-on/non-touch garbage bin. The ECIs include facilities in Trelawny, St Ann, St James, St Elizabeth, and Clarendon.
Olympic gold-medal winner and sprint legend Usain Bolt released a video in which the athlete noted that the current environment is difficult for children in Jamaica’s rural areas and his foundation wants to provide them any help they need. In the video, Bolt, who comes from the rural district of Trelawny’s Sherwood Content, told young children that he knows it is hard, but they must continue to work hard, “continue pushing and remember that anything is possible, don’t think limits.”
Many Jamaican celebrities have committed to providing support for the island’s children during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made learning difficult for them. The dancehall star Shenseea said she was donating some 100 tablets to children who need electronic devices to participate in online educational programs. Buju Banton, the reggae legend, has donated J$3 million in cash prize winnings from the Festival Song Competition to build a poultry/egg layers project at Sunbeam Children’s Home. Briana Williams, the sprint star who also serves as a Digicel Ambassador along with Bolt, announced a give-away of 20 tablets to student-athletes who need access to online classes.
Jamaica’s Ministry of Education and Jamaica Teachers Association (ITA) said that thousands of students on the island do not have devices like tablets, laptops, or smartphones that will allow them to continue learning online. Most schools in Jamaica remain closed because of the pandemic, but ECIs have received permission to re-open as long as they comply with provisions established by the Disaster Risk Management Order.