The Jamaica Independent Schools Association (JISA), which comprises over 100,000 students in private schools at the primary and secondary levels across Jamaica, has embarked on a plan to address eroding values in its schools by implementing a Values-based Education system.
JISA signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday, February 5 at the Belair School in Mandeville, Jamaica with Congress WBN (C-WBN), an international faith-based, non-profit organization, which also recently signed an MOU with the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) to support values-based education and indigenous content for the Caribbean.
The JISA/C-WBN MOU lays the platform for the commencement of pilot programmes on Values-based Education in a number of JISA schools. The signatories to the MOU from JISA were Ms. Doreen Morrison, President of JISA and Pastor Clifford Senior, Vice President and from C-WBN Dr. Noel Woodroffe, President of Congress WBN and Dr. Marlon Jameson, Executive Director of Congress WBN.
The over 80 principals and administrators who witnessed the historic MOU signing were told by Dr. Noel Woodroffe that Congress WBN would utilize its global network of expertise and resources to support JISA in the development of values-based education initiatives.
“We are putting alongside the academic track, strong values-based systems of the sort that seek to transform students into the productive citizens of Jamaica. This is very significant for us as Congress WBN, we are pleased to be a part of this vital process”, said Dr. Woodroffe. “Education is the bedrock of any nation’s future. Our global experience in building values-based education models and approaches allows us to come alongside an organization like JISA and contribute to national development”, said Dr. Woodroffe.
The JISA-Congress WBN collaborative partnership will govern the development and delivery of content for Values-based Education Development training, specifically tailored for JISA’s member principals, teachers and administrators.
“This is an urgent initiative”, says Doreen Morrison, the President of JISA. “The fall in morals and decency in our schools requires urgent action. We want to trigger a transformation in our schools that will impact the entire educational system in Jamaica”, says Morrison, who is the principal of Portland High in eastern Jamaica.
JISA decided to collaborate with C-WBN after a fact-finding mission to the C-WBN-operated NorthGate College in Trinidad and Tobago in October last year. “We wanted to get a first-hand view of the structures and patterns which were in place at NorthGate College (NGC), and to discover how it operated as a values-based educational institution”, noted Ms. Morrison, who led a 7-member JISA delegation comprising Wesley Boynes, President Elect of JISA, Sylvester O’Gilvie, Immediate, Past President, Pastor Clifford Senior, Vice-President, Maureen Marshall, Secretary, Donna Lowe, Treasurer and Wayne Robinson, Executive Member.
The team was impressed with what they observed at NorthGate College along with other independent school representatives from Nigeria and Kenya who were visiting the school for the same objectives. “It was a unique time of international connections”, said Wayne Robinson, the Director of Quality Academics on Ardenne Road. “We were amazed at how the NorthGate College culture was strategically shaped upon the principles and values, resulting in an atmosphere of high discipline and the absence of deviant behavior among the student body”, said Robinson.
Rev. Sylvester O’Gilvie of the Undergrad School in Montego Bay, who first learnt of Northgate College after attending the launch of Northgate High School in Ocho Rios, described the impact of what he had heard to the JISA Board. This led JISA visiting NorthGate College in Trinidad. “We gained valuable insight into how NorthGate College approached the development of the male students. In spite of the fact that most of the teachers were female, one could see that there was a deliberately designed male empowerment process embodied in a Manhood Charter, which was in fact changing and developing the lives of the boys who attended the College”, remarked Rev. O’Gilvie.
“This was one of the more interesting and compelling features, which was discovered at NorthGate College in light of the challenges with the male students here in Jamaica”, he added.