After twenty years of the Schools Environment Programme (SEP), Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) has to close the programme down as funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) has been withdrawn. I had already shared some information in a previous post about the financial challenges JET has been facing, and their needs in order to sustain and maximize their programmes. The programme faces closure in the next academic year, starting September. Kudos to CIBC First Caribbean Bank and Total Jamaica for their faithful support for SEP. Let us have more private sector support for this critical programme!
This has been one of JET’s flagship programmes, unique in many ways in that it encouraged not only creativity and imagination but also serious research and learning. Teachers and students have always welcomed and enjoyed it – including its competitive nature, as it is always good to be rewarded for a well-executed project.
However, there is much happier news to report. Recently Minister Without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister Daryl Vaz (who is responsible for environment and climate change matters) explained that J$75 million (J$25 million annually for three years) has been set aside for support for the Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica programme, a partnership among JET, the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Wisynco and the Tourism Ministry’s Clean Coasts Project. Three cheers!
Here is JET’s latest press release on the SEP Awards Ceremony, which took place this week.
June 19, 2018
A Bittersweet Celebration of the Schools’ Environment Programme 20th Anniversary
On Tuesday, June 18, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) hosted the 20th Annual Awards Ceremony for its Schools’ Environment Programme (SEP) at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston. It was a bittersweet celebration, however, as JET’s new CEO, Suzanne Stanley took the opportunity of the anniversary to announce that SEP is facing closure in September 2018 due to the imminent withdrawal of funding by the project’s main donor, the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA).
In February 2018, the NRCA, which has been funding SEP since 2012, indicated that it would no longer be able to sponsor the project in the 2018/19 academic year. Ms. Stanley followed her announcement with a bold call on leaders of the public and private sector of Jamaica to save SEP. “Environmental education is an important part of creating the change we all want to see in Jamaica,” said Stanley. “Successful, results-oriented, long-term projects with well-established followings like SEP lay the foundation for good environmental stewardship, and are the best shot we have at changing people’s hearts and minds about our environment.”
Ms. Elley-Mae Walker, a guidance counselor at St. Michael’s Primary School in Downtown Kingston and Mrs. Yvonne Hill, principal of Carroll Western Prep in Montego Bay, St. James were keynote speakers at the awards ceremony. Both teachers gave testament to the positive impact SEP has had on their schools and communities. Ms. Walker said that the experiences afforded to her students by SEP had exposed them to parts of Jamaica and their environment that they would usually not be privy to living in the inner-city. Mrs. Hill called SEP a beacon of light in her school, and credited JET’s SEP team for the influence they have had on her and her students over the two decades she has been participating in the programme.
The 2018 SEP awards ceremony featured an exhibition of environmental research projects from top performing participating prep and primary schools from across the island. Research projects were judged by a six-member judging panel on criteria including creativity, knowledge and content and presentation. Holland Primary emerged as SEP Champions, coping the top prize for their SEP work during the awards ceremony. Other winners of the 2018 SEP research competition include Vista Prep and Marjam Prep from St. Ann. Vista Prep won first place in the best display category, followed by Holland Primary in second place and Marjam Prep in third. Carroll Western Prep (St. James), Sanguinetti Primary (Clarendon), Negril All Age (Westmoreland) and St. Michael’s Primary also emerged as winners of sectional prizes for their research.
SEP is the longest running environmental education programme of its kind in Jamaica and was implemented in 39 schools in the 2017/18 academic year. SEP’s professional development workshops have given hundreds of Jamaican teachers the opportunity to expand their knowledge of environmental issues. The programme has inspired young environmental advocates and encouraged hundreds of successful environmental projects by schools in their local communities. SEP has been propelled by enthusiastic principal and teacher support, parental and community involvement and the support of several longstanding corporate sponsors, who were led by Total Jamaica in 2018.
In his message to the awards ceremony, Howard Henry, Network Director of Total Jamaica, commended those teachers and parents present for their invaluable support of the future generation and congratulated JET on SEP’s 20th anniversary. Mr. Henry acknowledged Ms. Stanley’s call to save SEP and made a commitment to Total Jamaica’s continued support of JET’s environmental education initiatives.