Scotiabank, UNICEF and Food For The Poor partner to bolster school safety

L-R, Partners in the ongoing Resilient Schools Programme, Kivette Silvera, Executive Director, Food for the Poor, Mariko Kagoshima, UNICEF Country Representative and Yanique Forbes-Patrick, Vice President, Communications and Corporate Affairs, Scotiabank are photographed with Minister of Education, Youth and Information, the Hon. Fayval Williams ( 3rd left)  and Grade 6 student  Teona Dietrich ( 2nd right)  during the handover of handwashing stations to the Port Henderson Primary School in Portmore St. Catherine. The project valued at $16.7 million dollars is being implemented in 19 schools located in high-risk COVID-19 parishes and will provide assistance with water, sanitization and hygiene facilities for schools preparing to reopen.

Kingston, Jamaica – February 13, 2021 – On Friday (February 12), the Port Henderson Primary School in Portmore became the first school to receive handwashing stations under the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Food for the Poor Resilient Schools Programme – for which Scotiabank has provided $2.2 million in funding. Implementation and logistics for the project are being led in consultation with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to improve water, sanitization and hygiene in 19 schools located in high-risk COVID-19 parishes.

Speaking at the brief handover ceremony, Yanique Forbes-Patrick, Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communications at Scotiabank, shared that the Bank’s contribution forms part of its overall COVID-19 response efforts and is in line with its broader commitment to youth development and education.

“Scotiabank has always been a strong proponent of initiatives that support our children. Ensuring that our schools are equipped with facilities to help contain the spread of the corona virus is a priority at this time and we are happy to be making a contribution to that end. We also want to thank all the teachers and administrators who have undertaken the important task of keeping our children safe,” Forbes-Patrick said.

She also noted that since March 2020, the Bank has contributed approximately $10 million toward educational assistance programmes in local schools.

UNICEF, which has been advocating globally for the safe return of students to schools, is responsible for coordinating the Resilient Schools project valued at over $16.7 million.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mariko Kagoshima, UNICEF Country Representative said that: “Together we have learned a lot over the past year about COVID-19 and one key message has not changed – handwashing! This, along with other mechanisms to reduce physical contact and limit transmission can help ensure the safe re-opening of face-to-face schooling in Jamaica.”

Under the programme, schools located in the parishes considered to high-risk for COVID-19 will be targeted with the aim of making them more resilient.

Kivette Silvera, Food for the Poor Executive shared that “As a charity, Food For The Poor has always been involved in enhancing the health and safety of our children, and even more so now, as we see the recent surge in the number of COVID-19 cases islandwide. This is why we are extremely happy to be partnering with Scotiabank and UNICEF to help both students and staff as they prepare to resume face-to-face classes. 

Commenting on the efforts to reopen schools, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, the Hon. Fayval Williams M.P. noted the many challenges that both schools and students still face.

She thanked the partners for their contribution noting the importance of collaboration between corporate Jamaica, multi-laterals and the Ministry in the national effort to support education during this time.

“Everyone knows that in order to get our economy moving and growing, it is going to depend on how educated our population is. There is a direct correlation between your level of education and the quality of life you will have, and so I want to take this opportunity to urge all Jamaicans to take education more seriously whether you are online or going to face to face classes,” the Minister said in closing.