In Jamaica, interns will work to reduce inequalities in education in a post-COVID-19 era.
Three students at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Northern Caribbean University (NCU) recently won paid internships at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Multi-Country Office in Jamaica.
Shertonio Byfield, Navaida Green, and Petrona Peart were the recipients of this year’s internship after entering the Development Challenge Competition staged by the UNDP in collaboration with the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, on July 10, 2020.
The NCU participants joined two other students from UWI and one student from the University of Technology (UTech) to form the winning team, named Reducing Inequalities in Education.
The competition was part of a five-day series of free webinars during the Ready Reset Recharge UNDP Youth Symposium, held July 6-10. The symposium, which occurred via livestream on Zoom and Facebook, elicited the response of youth in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean to the Special Human Development Report on COVID-19, with a goal of arriving at practical solutions for a post-COVID-19 era.
Team Reducing Inequalities in Education competed against two other hybrid teams and had only three minutes to impress the judges and their online youth audience. The judges’ scores comprised 90 percent of the total marks gained, while the people’s choice votes accounted for 10 percent.
In her closing remarks to delegates and contestants, the UNDP representative in Jamaica, Denise Antonio, said: “You have taken inspiration from the UNDP Special Report on COVID-19 and have charted your appropriate path to your priorities and contexts.… UNDP gives you our word that we will stand with you as you push for policy and behavioral change.”
Kavion Allen, president of the United Student Movement (USM) at NCU, was a member of the Steering Committee that organized the Ready Reset Recharge UNDP Youth Symposium. He commended the winning team in the Development Challenge, noting that “their presentation was so good, and they used basic methods to show how we can utilize what we have to make education work.”
The USM president was a presenter and a moderator at the UNDP Youth Symposium. Allen presented on how NCU’s student government has been preparing students to triumph in the era of COVID through a strategic plan titled The ACE Model. Allen reported on how NCU’s student government was serving the student population before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also shared some strategies going forward for the USM as the uncertainties of the pandemic continue.
“We were delighted to hear the good news about the students and their project on reducing inequalities in education,” said NCU president Lincoln Edwards. “From its very inception more than 113 years ago, this has been one of the missions of NCU, to provide quality Christian-centered education to persons who would normally be excluded by traditional systems.”
According to Edwards, when NCU came into being, the persons who could afford tertiary education were those of the elite. “The average person at that time could not afford such education, but through its work-study program, [the school] was able to administer students from lower-income sections.” Today, those students are doing very well in their profession, Edwards said. “The fact that current students could recognize this at the school makes us proud,” he added.