Self-Evaluation Tool Now Available for Community Media Projects in the Caribbean
Members of the "Container Project", a community computer access point hosted in a forty foot container in Palmers Cross, Clarendon, Jamaica, are now able to self evaluate their project as they were recently taught to review the objectives of the Project, a methodology for tracking day to day activities towards envisaged goals, and their progress and achievements.
The Container Project is one of the few community computer access points in Jamaica. Soon expected to be mobile with a view to serving youth in marginalised communities all over this island-country, it is equipped with computers, internet connection and a young talented staff.
The container has been buzzing with activity since its launch in April 2003. It provides a disciplined, unthreatening learning environment where individuals are encouraged to acquire marketable skills as well as new attitudes to work and community building.
The story of the Container Project is one to be told. It succeeded in bringing together people who were thought to be 'good for nothing' : uneducated and unemployed young men and women, from an equally uninspiring community whose character is reflected in its name...("Cross" meaning in local parlance, "troubles" or "bad luck"). It is moreover the brainchild of mervin* Jarman, himself originating from this community whose trajectory of uplifting himself from marginalisaon in Jamaica and in the United Kingdom prompted the development of this novel concept.
Jarman's perseverance and unstinting efforts to bring changes to the youth in the area using ICTs ignited the interest of members of the community, such as the notorious Grave Yard Crew, and other people of the area. Together they facilitated the transformation of the Container to the technology hub it is today, and changed even the lifestyles of members of the community. The Grave Yard Crew, once destined to a life of crime, now on their own initiative, help to keep the grounds safe and clean for all visitors; banned the smoking of weed; curtailed swearing and has made the environment conducive to the family and learning oriented space it is intended to be.
The Project's objectives are to embrace and transform people's lives through ICTs, and to provide new users with a non-intimidating point of contact to enable them to express themselves creatively and redirect their lives. It targets mainly disadvantaged rural and urban communities, unemployed young men and women, children and all who may be interested in learning to use ICTs for self discovery and the acquisition of usable skills.
There are currently 210 registered users, ages ranging from 6 to 65 years. Some of these registered users travel up to 20 miles to participate in the project."
The project also seeks to forge networks among youths in Palmers Cross, the rest of Jamaica and further afield, ridging the gap between Jamaicans at home and broad. It further provides the possibility of making trade links to market the skills and creativity, harnessed at the Container.
UNESCO has been associated with this activity since 2000 and envisages further assistance within the framework of its programmes to create lifelong learning opportunities through community media and to support the development of community multimedia centres. Other partners of the project include local organizations, such as HEART/ NTA, Jamaica which certifies individuals in multimedia technology and facilitates the dissemination of information dealing with HIV/AIDS prevention, environment and sustainable development.
* spelling on special request of Mr Jarman