Building a new future for education in Jamaica (DFID)

3-year DFID-funded project to provide better education for children in poor rural communities in Jamaica

DFID-funded project Funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) as part of its programme to eliminate poverty, and in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica, the Jamaica All Age Schools Project (JAASP) worked with 48 remote, rural ‘All-Age schools’, most perched on the most inaccessible mountain tops, over 3 years in clusters representing each of the six education regions of the island.

The purpose of the project was to provide better education for children in poor rural communities and, through this, to contribute to improve lifetime opportunities for them. The direct beneficiaries of the project were the children and communities in the most disadvantaged, remote rural areas of Jamaica.

JAASP specifically aimed to tackle the key issues of Access, Quality, Retention and Equity in relation to rural education. One of the underlying principles behind the project has been the building of partnerships between schools, parents, communities, Ministry of Education officers and the private sector to develop improved lifetime opportunities for rural children.

Outcomes at school, pupil, community and government levels

All schools in the project improved their learning environment, teaching and learning approaches and school management, as well as planning effectively for further improvements in their school. Pupils recorded higher levels of attendance and improved performance, especially in literacy and numeracy. Wider benefits included greater community participation in the schools and the development of sustainable systems at central and regional levels.

External and internal evaluations of JAASP found that the project had very successfully achieved its objectives; there were many moving stories of schools and teachers transformed and of individual young people with lives opened up. The evaluations also noted significant additional impacts above and beyond the original project objectives. These included the impact on the development of communities as a whole of which the All-Age Schools were a part, on the positive social energy and drive which came from a sense of success in communities, on the increased opportunities which the project brought and on local income generation.