We receive so much joy watching communities come together and create initiatives to serve their neighborhoods best. We were encouraged to watch as two different churches in Jamaica empowered by our model individually sought to create Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs in order to provide quality education for the children in their area. Here at LIA, our greatest hope is for the most vulnerable and marginalized communities to attain the hope the Lord has for them through economic empowerment, social engagement, education, and community health programs. We equip and support the local church in order that they may take ownership of sustainable community initiatives.
ECD programs in Jamaica are predominantly church initiated and enrollment is accomplished through word of mouth outreach and other promotional activities. The key services these programs provide are development of social and emotional competency, motor skills, cognitive capabilities, and language. The purpose of ECD programs such as these are to properly prepare children for schooling prior to their enrollment in primary school. All of the skills that are taught and developed are ones children are expected to have proficiency in by the age of six in order to ensure primary school enrollment.
The Hatfield Independent Baptist Church and the Cumberland Community Church both saw a need in their area for early childhood education programming and committed themselves to achieving quality ECD in their neighborhoods.
A number of years ago, Cumberland Community Church gathered and decided to resolve the need for childhood development and opened the Cumberland Basic School to the community. The school is operated by the church and enrolls children from both within the community and from neighboring communities. The school has flourished in its lifetime allowing the church to employ 5 teachers, a cook, a cleaning attendant and has enrolled 74 students! All of the teachers at the Cumberland Basic School have been trained in Early Childhood Education and equipped with the expertise to guide and prepare their students for primary education.
Back in 2010 following a Training of Trainers (TOT) that we hosted in the Hopeton community of Hatfield, Jamaica, Hatfield Independent Baptist Church initiated a seed project to also address the lack of childhood development programs in their community. The church started the Elpicharis Basic School and administratively manages the school and building located on the church’s compound. Over the years, God has cultivated lasting transformation in the Hopeton community as the Elpicharis Basic School has hired a trained and experienced teacher and the student body has increased to 31 students! The school was even given a play area donated by a member of the church.
Each school has seen significant growth over time and has positively impacted the communities they serve. In addition to the churches, both the Cumberland and Hopeton communities are actively involved in the schools by participating in the Parent Teacher Association and school board membership. The standard of education the students receive from both schools is very high and the teachers employed are highly recommended. The students are properly prepared to enter primary school and have proven the effectiveness of the ECD program as their grades, once enrolled, are among the highest in the class. Each community respects the contributions the schools have made in their society and are committed to their continued success.
We praise God for the amazing prosperity the ECD program initiatives have proven to be. We have had the incredible pleasure of watching Him unite communities around local church initiatives such as these! The same way we are committed to these communities, we ask our partners to commit to praying for the continual growth of these programs and the development of more initiatives in the world’s most vulnerable and impoverished communities.