British Minister Observes CSJP’S Initiative at Work with Troubled Students

The British Minister of State for the Caribbean, Commonwealth and the United Nations, Rt. Hon. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, on Friday (November 10), toured the Kingston High School, where he observed the Men With a Message initiative of the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP III) engage students with behavioural and attitudinal issues.

The visit was an opportunity for the Minister to observe the operation and effectiveness of the CSJP, which is partially funded by the United Kingdom government, through its Department for International Development (DFID).

“We have been supporting this programme for a number of years and I don’t want to just read a briefing about it or hear from the Director who is involved in it. That’s what brought me to the school to see how [the programme] is delivered and the impact it makes…and that allows us to plan more effectively in terms of how we look at funding [and] how we look at support,” Lord Ahmad told JIS News.

He hailed the programme, noting that it “underlines the hope one can bring in changing people’s lives.” He further praised the Men With a Message initiative, for bringing together a team of inspirational men who impact the life choices of youngsters.

Addressing a group of students following a presentation by a Men With a Message volunteer, he urged them to focus on education and the opportunities it can provide.

“You must work hard, use the opportunity, it’s an incredible fortune. The more education you get, no one and nothing can take that from you. And it’s programmes like [the CSJP] which allow you to become leaders of your own country,” he said.

The Minister sat with the team from Men With a Message for a conversation on what has led them to be a part of the programme, as well with a group of students who spoke with him about their ambitions and school life.

“I have seen some inspirational children, in terms of their ambition and the motivation they get…notwithstanding the challenges they have, there is great hope and aspiration,” he said in an interview with JIS News following the tour.

“I think ultimately when we talk about education, yes, it’s about learning Maths, English and others, but it’s also about people and how you learn from each other and influence others. It’s been an influential visit and it leaves me thinking that the future of Jamaica, in what is a very challenging area, is one which is very bright,” Lord Ahmad added.

Programme Manager, CSJP III, Simeon Robinson, expressed gratitude for the Minister’s visit and is hopeful that the programme will continue to have a strong, positive relationship with the UK Government and DFID.

“We are happy that he has taken the time to see what it is we are doing. The British people and the Government are contributing to the effort that we are undertaking here, so we are very welcoming of the visit to validate the things we are doing,” he said.

Principal of Kingston High School, Andrea Gray-Dwyer, said the staff and students were elated to host the Minister and the CSJP, with which they have collaborated on a number of projects.

She anticipates that the visit will lead to deeper cooperation with the programme, in order to better cater to the needs of students, many of whom are vulnerable youth from inner-city communities.

Minister Ahmad was joined on the tour by British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Asif Ahmad, as well as Director, Americas Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Carol Owens.

He was on a two-day visit to the island, starting November 9, during which he called on the Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Kamina Johnson-Smith.

The CSJP III is a multi-faceted crime and violence prevention initiative of the Ministry of National Security, which focuses on building community safety and security. The programme provides crime and violence prevention services to 50 vulnerable and volatile communities, spanning eight parishes.

In addition to DFID, it also receives funding from the Government of Jamaica, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada (DFATD).

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