MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA, October 20, 2021: Books4Kids Jamaica announced today that it has completed the first week of its 2021 Book Distribution in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the program, 4 and 5 year old children receive a book bag containing the popular 300-page BrainQuest Workbook, a reading book, a pack of crayons and a pencil, while 3 year-old children receive a ABC colouring book, crayons and a pencil.
The charity raised JMD 6.000.000 (US$40k) towards the purchase of books and materials for this year’s book drive through generous donations by The Honourable P.J. Patterson, Hanover Charities, Ministers Daryl & Anne-Marie Vaz and charity patron Ragni Trotta.
“Having participated a few times in this initiative and witnessing the positive results, it is an absolute pleasure to endorse this very worthy cause. It is the more urgent when so many of our students are missing the rich benefits of face-to-face learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Most Honourable P. J. Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica.
The Montego Bay based charity is primarily concentrating its efforts in the parishes of St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland, Trelawny and Portland where more than 6,000 children at 90+ schools can look forward to receiving a red or blue bookbag over the next month.
Said Katrin Casserly, Chairperson of sponsors Hanover Charity;“Hanover Charities has always welcomed the Books4Kids initiative as essential for our young children in the West. We are pleased and honoured to be a part this year as a sponsor by supporting 1,000 Basic School children in our parish.”
The Early Childhood Education initiative is founded on the belief that getting books into the hands of young children can make a significant and important impact on their learning and future academic ability, laying the groundwork for a successful future. Furthermore, is hoped that the provision of physical books during the pandemic will help bridge the increasing digital divide that is putting so many of Jamaica’s youngest children at a disadvantage.
Commenting on the devastating effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on education, during which the teacher-student classroom experience has been substituted by technological means, Member of Parliament for West Portland The Hon. Daryl Vaz stated; “Although technology has filled a serious gap in reaching students, many do not have devices, are unable to afford the cost of the internet or simply live in geographical areas where service is non-existent.”
Minister Vaz highlighted the positive impact of the books and materials on many children and their families and lauded the efforts of the initiative.
“Books continue to nurture and develop the mind with knowledge and information; assist with communication and social skills as well as provide entertainment. I am pleased to be once again associated with Books4Kids Jamaica’s back to school distribution of books and materials to the thousands of Kindergarten children who will benefit, particularly in my constituency of West Portland. The aim is to capture and captivate these young minds and create a love for reading.”
Member of Parliament for West Portland The Hon. Daryl Vaz
With the pre-school children not yet back in school, the charity is working with Principals at a limited number of schools in order to arrange safe book distributions in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 guidelines. Local transportation company and sponsors Jamaica Tours Ltd. (JTL) is providing free logistics services, helping to bring books, materials and volunteers to many schools across Western Jamaica. Moreover, the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) is assisting with the delivery of book bags to some of the smaller schools.