Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind "Sesame Street," Plaza Sésamo, and so much more, was founded over 40 years ago as Children’s Television Workshop with the goal of helping prepare children from low-income families for school. As UNESCO’s 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report highlights, education “enables people to make choices in areas that matter.” It adds that those who lack “literacy and numeracy skills face a heightened risk of poverty, insecure employment, and ill health.” Social inclusion, therefore, is a topic that has always been at the heart of Sesame Workshop.
With its goal of closing the academic gap, the organization became inherently focused on promoting social inclusion. Since then, the Workshop has expanded its reach to over 150 countries all over the globe, addressing various issues from health and well-being, to mutual respect and understanding, and of course, early literacy and numeracy and school preparedness.
Sesame Workshop’s dedication to social inclusion can be summarized in its mission: “Sesame Workshop is committed to the principle that all children deserve a chance to learn and grow; to be prepared for school; to better understand the world and each other; to think, dream and discover; to reach their highest potential.”
There are several inefficiencies in Jamaica’s child care system, and our government is not doing enough to eradicate the problem.
The event in contemporary Jamaican history that brought the glaring inequality of the state child care system into attention was the May 2009 fire at the Armadale juvenile facility in St. Ann. Armadale was home to 62 girls—or “wards,” some of whom committed crimes as juveniles—who lived in substandard conditions in violation of the national building code. When a section of the facility was engulfed in flames in 2009, seven girls died due to insufficient safety measures.
An investigative commission found that the girls had been on lockdown since the week before the fire because one had tried to escape. Some of the girls alleged that the fire resulted from a police officer throwing tear gas into the room.
• Direct the Department of Correctional Services to immediately cease the practice of lockdown in juvenile correctional facilities;
• Instruct the Child Development Agency (CDA), Jamaica’s children’s homes agency, to immediately remove all children in lockups and redirect them to appropriate places of safety;
• Provide a timeline for the construction of new juvenile facilities; and
• Instruct the minister of health to outline the steps that will ensure the longevity of the CDA so that it operates well and also does its job adequately.