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JM | Sep 14, 2021

JET hunts for new funding as NRCA cuts aid to Schools’ Environment Programme

/ Our Today

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Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie, CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust (Photo: Facebook @JamEnTrust)

Jamaica’s long-running Schools’ Environment Programme (SEP) recently received the devastating news that its largest donor, the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA), will not be funding the programme in the 2021-2022 school year. 

It is now seeking new funding partners to continue the programme for the new academic year.

Implemented by the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), SEP is in its 24th year, and for more than two decades has delivered a campus-based education programme to increase environmental awareness among Jamaican teachers and students. 

At its height in 2003-2004, SEP was delivered in 353 schools, reaching an estimated 300,000 students and 600 teachers. Over the years, it has been funded by a wide range of donors including the Government of Jamaica, local and international environmental foundations and the Jamaican private sector. Funding challenges have reduced the scope of the programme, but although smaller in recent years, teachers and students have still attended annual workshops on environmental issues, participated in field trips, conducted research, planted trees, implemented clean-up projects and celebrated their work in an annual awards ceremony.

Cockpit Country (Photo: savecockpitcountry.org)

Karel Samuels, senior teacher at Maryland All Age School in Hanover, expressed her distress at the possibility of having no SEP this year due to lack of funding.

“The Schools Environment Programme has helped to shape and nurture our young people to become more environmentally aware citizens and good environmental stewards,” Samuels said.

“On behalf of the students, I am making a desperate plea. We need this programme to help in our children’s holistic development.”

The COVID-19 pandemic took a heavy toll on the Jamaican education system. Despite this challenge, JET was still able to successfully deliver SEP in 2020-2021.

“Given the many environmental challenges Jamaica faces, environmental education programmes are vital to build awareness and empower young people,” said Dr. Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie, JET’s CEO.

“COVID-19 has constrained the type of activities JET can deliver so we will alter the delivery of the programme. In addition, this year’s programme will focus on climate action and climate advocacy and we are seeking new partners and funders.”

“Everyone at JET is proud of our flagship education programme and we are determined that it will continue.”

said Carlette Falloon, JET’s former programme director and one of the founders of SEP 

“Everyone at JET is proud of our flagship education programme and we are determined that it will continue,” said Carlette Falloon, JET’s former programme director and one of the founders of SEP. 

Rosemarie Brent-Harris, the director for Liberty Learning Centre Tower Isle and Liberty Learning Centre Portland, shared that “the SEP has benefited our students greatly. The expansive nature of the programme made many of our students develop an intense love of nature and a deep sense of environmental preservation. We sincerely hope that funding will be provided so that this very beneficial programme may be continued”.

2021 marks JET’s 30th anniversary and the organisation is seeking new partners and funders to ensure SEP can continue its important work educating Jamaican teachers and students.

Rodriguez-Moodie indicated that “our youth are the generation of change, and we would be doing a disservice to them if we do not continue programmes such as SEP”.

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