March 18, 2014 – As the Sandals Foundation marks its fifth anniversary this month, the non-profit arm of Sandals Resorts International is gearing up to drive education across the Caribbean to the tune of over US$620,000.
The early childhood sector in Jamaica is set to benefit from a unique educational programme pioneered by the Sandals Foundation which aims to tackle the challenges currently hindering early childhood development. According to 2009 education statistics produced by the Planning Institute of Jamaica, only 50 per cent of Grade One students are ready for primary level education, resulting in a serious deficit in reading and writing abilities.
In an effort to address this, the Sandals Foundation has committed over US$467,000 to supporting Jamaica’s early childhood sector. This figure speaks to the launch and implementation of Project Sprout, which includes the construction of the West End Early Childhood Institution in the parish of Westmoreland.
Project Sprout is a targeted intervention at the early childhood level that helps children better achieve their developmental milestones. It will provide upgrades to school infrastructure; see to the provision of teaching and learning aids, such as books, computers and educational toys, that will enhance the learning environment; provide human resources by way of an early childhood specialist and social worker; and facilitate parental involvement in a child’s education at school and at home.
Where parents are faced with challenges in the affordability of providing adequate nutrition, the Sandals Foundation has included an agricultural component, using greenhouse technology. This will provide employment in the community and provide vegetables to school canteens and markets.
“The Sandals Foundation since its inception in 2009 has always believed in a holistic approach to ensuring sustainable national development. Project Sprout is the latest of our sustainable initiatives and is expected to remediate and prevent inadequate student readiness for primary level education,” said Heidi Clarke, Director of Programmes for the Sandals Foundation.
Meanwhile, Willikies Primary School (Antigua) will be receiving its first music room to support artistic development among the students there; and computer labs have been established at The Anglican School in St. Lucia and Rolleville Primary School in Great Exuma, Bahamas.
Close to 2,000 students are now benefitting from the partnership between Sandals Foundation and Hands Across The Sea, an organisation that fosters literacy in the Caribbean. The funds covered the procurement of new books along with upgrades to the library facilities at six schools in St. Lucia.
In Whitehouse, Jamaica, a new library and computer lab will be opened at King’s Primary School in partnership with Unique Vacations Ltd. and Loyalty One, while Culloden Early Childhood Institute – built in 2011 by the Sandals Foundation in partnership with local partners and YellowBird Foundation as one of the Caribbean’s first environmentally friendly schools – will open its Infant Department.
The Sandals Foundation – which celebrates its anniversary on March 18 – has undertaken over 300 projects and programmes to date in Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua, the Turks & Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, Grenada and Barbados.
“Through the support of our team members at Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts and Grand Pineapple Resorts, the Sandals Foundation continues to keep its promise of making a difference, and having a positive impact on the lives of the people in our communities,” said Adam Stewart, President of the Sandals Foundation. “We are truly grateful to them as well as our community, non-profit, government and corporate partners who have shown unwavering dedication to giving back to the Caribbean. We look forward to the next five years, during which we will remain committed to our region’s development.”