Project STAR and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for greater collaboration on skills training and school-to-work transition, youth consultation, violence prevention, mental health intervention, networking, and data collection.
The MoU was signed recently at the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica’s (PSOJ) office on Hope Road in Kingston by Project STAR’s Saffrey Brown and UNICEF Jamaica’s representative, Olga Isaza.
In welcoming the agreement with Project STAR, Isaza said that the areas of collaboration coincide with UNICEF’s priority areas for young people, which were built by consulting with them and giving them a voice.
“As you know, this is also a significant component of our approach to children and adolescent participation. We look forward to engaging with the youth in your (STAR) targeted communities. We will provide the technical support needed to build their capacity as youth leaders who can be positive role models and a source of inspiration for others,” she said.
In commending the collaboration, Brown said that Project STAR was pleased to be partnering with UNICEF, an advocate of children and young people, with vast knowledge, experience and resources in this area.
“We are delighted to have this partnership with UNICEF and we look forward to this collaboration so that we can tap into the necessary resources that the organisation can provide to enhance our work with young people in vulnerable communities,” community development specialist, Brown said.
The MoU will see collaboration on youth skills and transition to work specifically focused on Project STAR’s Economic Transformation Working Group and UNICEF’s Education Programme intended to further Jamaican youth accessing training and 21st century skills and employment opportunities. These will include “FunDoo”, a WhatsApp-based chatbot, teaching life skills, to be provided via UNICEF’s U-Report social messaging service for youth.
MoU to help with violence prevention
In the area of youth consultation, both organisations will collaborate on Project STAR’s Youth Advisory Group and UNICEF’s U-Report Youth Council towards ensuring that youth in Project STAR’s communities are meaningfully engaged at each stage as the project progresses; and have their voices amplified on a national level.
In terms of violence prevention, there will be collaboration between the two parties on violence prevention skills at the community and household levels.
Meanwhile, on mental health, Project STAR and UNICEF will work to ensure that the communities in which Project STAR will be engaged will have access to mental health services. The mental health services will either delivered face-to-face or remotely via U-Matter, a free, confidential and anonymous chat line, also provided by U-Report, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
In terms of networking, the organisations will connect each other with stakeholders around shared objectives, such as technical support sourced from UNICEF globally, other UN agencies locally; or implementation support from PSOJ members and partners.
Project STAR will collaborate with UNICEF to conduct polls via U-Report to gather feedback from youth in support of Project STAR’s goals both at a community and national level.
U-Report operates in 94 countries worldwide and in Jamaica currently has a community of more than 13,900 young Jamaicans known as “U-Reporters” who participate in mobile messaging-based activities and services co-designed with youth.