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JAM | Dec 7, 2023

FunDoo chatbot to equip youth with critical life skills

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

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(L-R) Olga Isaza, country representative for UNICEF Jamaica; and Senator Dana Morris Dixon, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with oversight for skills and digital transformation (OUR TODAY photo).

Young Jamaicans are set to benefit from important skills that will aid them to navigate school and the working world with the launch of FunDoo, a new and free digital skills development tool for young adults.

The WhatsApp-based chatbot is a U-Report initiative that seeks to equip the youth with 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, communication, emotional skills, resume writing, interpersonal relationship management, free career guidance, and among others.

Danielle Mullings, project manager for UNICEF Jamaica, who was speaking at Wednesday’s launch at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Wellness and Recreational Centre in Kingston, outlined that FunDoo is more than a chatbot but a gateway for a world of opportunities where young Jamaicans can acquire crucial life skills.

Danielle Mullings, project manager of UNICEF Jamaica (OUR TODAY photo).

“It’s not just a chatbot, it’s a symbol of hope and empowerment, so today isn’t solely about a launch, it’s about igniting a movement. It’s about collectively bringing about change that will benefit Jamaica’s youth so I implore each of you to share FunDoo with at least five young persons that you know so when we finish today I want to have at least 300 persons who have tried it today,” she stressed.

The UNICEF project manager said the initiative is targeting some 3,000 young persons who are not employed or training for the year.

More than 200 Jamaican young people, including students from the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf, were actively engaged in focus groups to ensure the chatbot was inclusive and culturally appropriate.

Olga Isaza, country representative for UNICEF Jamaica (OUR TODAY photo).

Olga Isaza, country representative for UNICEF Jamaica, said multilateral aid agency is keenly interested in supporting the national priority of reaching and engaging youths who are not employed, or enrolled in a learning institution or training programme by helping them to transition into these opportunities.

She stressed that youths who utilise the chatbot will be exposed to valuable life skills ranging from critical thinking, resume writing, and time management.

The chatbot was launched by UNICEF, in partnership with Project STAR, Digicel, and HEART/NSTA Trust.

Senator Dana Morris Dixon, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with oversight for skills and digital transformation, lauded the partnership as a step further in the country’s digital transformation thrust.

Government Senator Dana Moriss-Dixon.

“I say it all the time digital transformation does not rest in an office, it doesn’t rest in my office, it doesn’t rest in my administration, it is an all of Jamaica job. We are all working to take our country to the future and that is very important for us to understand and I think this event is the epitome of that.

You have our private sector partners, you have our NGOs [non-governmental organisations], you have an international development partner in UNICEF and we hear our government saying this is the way forward. This is where we have to go but the government doesn’t have to do everything, this is the true partnership that is going to be taking our country forward so it’s really great to be here,” she said.

Morris-Dixon also lauded the approach employed by UNICEF in including individuals from the deaf community.

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