Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, presenting Shane-Paul Hunte of St. Giles Primary School with an award. (G. Brewster/BGIS)??

Efforts to rejuvenate the Junior Achievement (JA) programme in Barbados have been lauded by acting Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Ronald Jones.

Addressing the closing/awards ceremony of the 2011 Barbados Manufacturers’ Exhibition (BMEX) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, yesterday, Mr. Jones commended the JA programme and said he looked forward to it blossoming again in Barbados and bringing "greater fruit to our young people."????

He assured representatives of JA that while young people, on leaving school, would be prepared "to become good employees for everybody else somewhere", Government would also "want to make them good entrepreneurs so that they could create the opportunities for others who might not have their acumen, their skills and the knowledge to be part of the space in the Caribbean."

Mr. Jones had just been updated on the efforts of the Eastern Caribbean Youth Micro-Enterprise Programme of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to revive JA in Barbadian schools, particularly through its Pilot Garden Project.

Registering his satisfaction about this, he said: "So, the 22 schools which will be part of this exercise, this garden pilot project should, in fact, be complimented for the drive and the initiative."

"Get our young involved. They are crying out for that assistance and where adults or other young people as youth leaders are, with the knowledge and the skill, they could be brought to the fore to provide that help… The state cannot do it alone and the state will not do it alone because the state believes in partnerships…"

As he urged others to join in the collaborative approach to JA and to enterprise education in Barbados, the acting Prime Minister told his audience he was looking forward to September of this year "to make an announcement to participating schools and their sponsors" in the programme.

Representative of USAID and JA, Marsha-Ann Strand, in providing the update on the rebirth of the programme, explained that her organisation had worked quietly, since May 2010, to "advance youth micro-enterprise development both in Barbados and the OECS".?? And, she alluded to work at the Gordon Walters Primary School that sought, among other things, "to develop [in students] an appreciation of agriculture as a viable alternative to traditional employment".

She said: "Junior Achievement was invited to deliver the business part of it, while the Ministry of Agriculture was invited to deliver the technical/technology part of the programme. Together we prepared those students and they participated in Agrofest, where they produced, packaged, marketed and sold their products to earn more than $300 and since then have continued to earn more than $300."

Mrs. Strand also noted that the Grantley Adams Memorial School was now the second school in the pilot programme and that a number of agencies were on board, including the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, the Small Business Association of Barbados, the 4-H Club; JB’s SuperCentre and a commercial bank, which had indicated an interest in investing in the youth’s education and their agricultural businesses.

Emphasising that momentum was growing as "any good garden project should", she underlined: ??"The Ministry of Education has been critical in advancing Junior Achievement in this collaborative approach."?? And, she stressed: "The JA collaborative approach to entrepreneurship education in Barbados is working and it is at work in the minds of students who are beginning to change their attitudes towards learning, towards agriculture, towards entrepreneurship and small business development."

During the awards ceremony, the acting Prime Minister also commended the 12 schools whose work was on display within the Media Resource Department booth at BMEX and presented awards to four of them; namely Ellerslie Secondary, St. Leonard’s Boys’, The People’s Cathedral and St. Giles Primary School.


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