Guidance counselling programmes in several high schools are to be significantly enhanced with the introduction of a Students’ Motivational Manual, this month (September), at the start of the new school term.
The manual, which seeks to advance the agenda of positive attitudes and values, has the key objectives to stimulate self-confidence and positive mental attitude; encourage better acceptance of self and appreciation of the discipline of hard work; and to fight low esteem and under-achievement.
Targeted at young persons aged 10 to 20 years, the handbook was compiled from a special research project to address the growing level of social problems affecting young persons. The project was co-ordinated by social development practitioner and author of the manual, Archibald Edwards, with assistance from sociologists, social workers and educators.
With the cost ranging from $250 to $300, the books will, however, be donated to several schools, courtesy of Hanover Charity, which previously donated over 4,000 copies to a number of schools as part of a pilot project in 2007.
The Charity will make available another 1,000 copies to some high schools this term. These include Green Island High, Rusea’s High, Hopewell High, and Rhodes Hall High in Hanover. Munro College and Hampton High, in St. Elizabeth, have also expressed interest to use the manual.
The author tells JIS News that earlier this year, copies of the book were also presented to principals and guidance councillors of some schools.
A former employee of the Social Development Commission (SDC), with 11 years of service as a Community Development Officer, Mr. Edwards was also Acting Parish Manager for the SDC in Hanover for two years. He is also the recipient of several awards for outstanding work in youth and community development.
Mr. Edwards’ concern for the plight of young persons, was what motivated him to establish his Youth Transformation Programme two years ago, out of which the manual was born.
He tells JIS News that he created the programme, “basically to address the high level of unemployment, unskilled workers among the younger population with the propensity for antisocial activity, hopelessness, de-motivation, frustration, lack of opportunities; because a lot of them are uneducated, they are untrained, so they are not so marketable in terms of job opportunities.”
During his presentation at the official launch of the manual on August 17, at King’s House, Mr. Edwards revealed that his passion is to help young persons to believe in themselves, starting in the homes and the schools. “I want to help them build self esteem, self confidence, self motivation, and let them know that whatever the mind can conceive, they can achieve,” he said.
The manual explores topics, such as accepting and appreciating one’s self; maintaining a high self esteem and a sense of responsibility; having the right attitude – a major key to success; setting attainable goals within a logical framework; practising good time management; ten steps to optimism and positivism; peer pressure and the drug abuse problem; and preparing for the workplace.
Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, had high praises for the motivational book, describing it as a road map to success for young people. “I would say that the manual is a sort of road map that, if you follow closely, will help you to reap success, not only in academic areas, but also in your personal lives,” he said, at the launch.
The Head of State said he hoped that the manual would help to improve the attitudes and behaviour of children. “I believe also that the manual will encourage and inspire students to achieve and to believe in their dreams and ultimately, reality,” he added.
The Governor-General further pointed out that it is written in very simple language, and is fun and easy to read. “The tips and exercises provide an opportunity for introspection and reflection, as students contemplate where they are now and what they want to do in the future,” he noted.
Several young persons who have already benefited from the manual spoke of its far-reaching effects in their personal lives, at the launch.
Sixth Form student at Rusea’s High School, Sabrina Quarrie, referred to the manual as a “master guide for youths,” noting that “it helps to build your self confidence; it helps to create a positive mind; it helps to show you how to work hard; and how to achieve one’s goal. I strongly recommend it to all young people who want to succeed in their careers.”
Another student, who is attending the Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College, Tamoy Bernard, also recommended that young persons read the manual, as it will help them to develop positive attitudes, build high self esteem, and encourages one to take full responsibility for one’s actions.
“I know that a lot of youths have benefited from reading this book, and personally, I attended the Green Island High School and I sat nine CXC subjects and this book has helped me to have discipline for hard work and because of this, I passed all nine. Yes, it can do the same for other Jamaican youths,” she said.
Lecturer at Northern Caribbean University and Editor of the manual, Ruiz Warren, who also attended the launch, commended Mr. Edwards for penning the manual. “I believe that it provides a positive alternative to some of the negative influences that are jostling for the attention of our young people, and indeed in Jamaica. We all agree that our young people are at risk, and I hope that it will not only give them the freedom to choose, but it will motivate them to choose that which will make them the success that they can be,” he said.
The Youth Transformation Programme, which started in September 2007 with hospitality skills training, in collaboration with the Heart Trust/NTA, has to date facilitated the training of over 500 young persons, including a special male marginalised group taken off the ‘street corner’.
Additionally, earlier this year, as part of that programme, a students’ time management project was launched, which allows students to be better organised in planning and prioritising their daily activities.
“Many parents hail this as a valuable way to monitor the work of their children and guide them in setting weekly goals, as well as enhancing parent/child relationship, which is critical to the performance of students,” Mr. Edwards noted at the launch.
Another component of the programme is the three-week Home Based Basic Training Course in the Principles and Practice of Positive Attitudes and Good Work Ethics.
Participants are required to study the manual and then tested. “We ask high school students, particularly grade 11 students, to read the manual intensely. They are then given 50 questions. A pass of at least 60 per cent would earn them a certificate of participation,” the author tells JIS News.
Come November, scholarships will also be offered under the programme and will be open to all subscribers of the Motivational Manual who are between 10 and 20 years of age. The scholarships will be awarded on the basis of academic achievement and financial need. “We are looking at making part proceeds of the sale of the manual to the scholarship fund,” Mr. Edwards informs.
The author says the manual is not only limited to young readers, but encourages adults to read it as well. For young persons out of school, the author still tries to reach them by way of community workshops through community-based organisations.