The Toots Foundation, named in honour of the late Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, OJ, Multi-Grammy award winning Reggae artist, partnered up with Youths For Excellence Limited and the Ministry of Education and Youth to distribute tablets to forty-five (45) children. Fifteen (15) children from three (3) schools: Windward Road, Rollington Town and Treadlight Primary schools, were presented with the tablets in a special handover ceremony at the Ministry of Education and Youth on Wednesday, April 5, 2023.
Leba Hibbert, daughter of Toots Hibbert and Vice President of the Toots Foundation, contacted Youths For Excellence to donate JMD 750,000 in her father’s honour towards the procurement of the tablets and the organization’s overall operations of eradicating education inequity. In a statement, she said: “My father believed in the power of education and that empowerment of the youth was the best way to fix our society. I am so proud of the legacy he has left behind. My dad will never die. I am grateful to Youths For Excellence for their partnership in helping us have my dad’s vision realized.” At the ceremony, she gave an impassioned rendition of her original song “Ragga Souljah” from her album titled “Intoxicated” that called for a healing of our society, mirroring the values of her iconic dad: “You need me, like I need you. We should be united in unity!”
Jénine Shepherd, Founder, Board Co-Chair and President of Youths For Excellence Limited expressed gratitude to the Toots Foundation for trusting them with the icon’s legacy and thanked YFE’s partners on the project. “Toots has raised a dynamo of a daughter who is equipped with a heart that bleeds for Jamaica’s children. She is doing the work of keeping her father alive by maintaining his legacy. Leba, your dad would be so proud of the work you are doing,” said Shepherd. “I want to also highlight the Honourable Fayval Williams, our Minister of Education and her team, specifically Latoya Harris and Sharlene Edwards who assisted with both the logistics of the shipping and purchasing process as well as the organization and execution of this handover ceremony. Minister Williams has been an avid supporter of the work of young people. I can say without a doubt that YFE would not accomplish half of what it has without her support. She makes the time for organizations like ours because she recognizes the value of partnership with youth to advance the Quality Education agenda.” She also thanked Jabarri Robinson, YFE’s Director of Programme Development and Events for his logistical oversight with the tablet procurement. YFE thanked its sponsors Bryan Studios and OML Shipping for their support.
“We welcome this handover of devices by the Toots Foundation and Youths For Excellence. This is a wonderful and well appreciated gesture to the selected schools. We cannot thank you enough for this generous donation that will support our efforts to reduce and I dare say, eliminate, the digital divide within the school system. This obviously is in line with what the Ministry has been trying to do,” said The Honourable Fayval Williams, MP., Minister of Education and Youth.
FEEDBACK FROM THE SCHOOLS
Speaking on behalf of Rollington Town Primary was Vice Principal Pauline Harris: “Surely we are grateful for these tablets. At the moment, We are upgrading our computer room. Our last exam, the grade three diagnostic test, we had to use the computer room because it was online. So these tablets will surely help us from time to time. We are refurbishing the other computers there and we want to go to a level where one class can use the computers fully so we’re really grateful for this. We will surely make use of them.”
Casmin Hayles-Chambers, Acting Principal at Treadlight Primary School also weighed in: “I deem that Treadlight is the heart of Toots Foundation, that’s where he was from and I have taught many of his siblings and interfaced with many of them so it is right that Treadlight is a part of this,” and was met with rapturous laughter and applause. “Gratitude is a must,” she continued, “So I just want to say a big thank you on behalf of Treadlight Primary School.”
Tanisha Titters-Montaque, Acting Principal at the Windward Road Primary and Junior High School, stated: “We are grateful to Miss Shepherd, grateful to the Toots Hibbert Foundation for considering Windward Road. We consider it that we have a blessed school and we’re happy that the need is seen and that the foundation thought it necessary to help us fill the gap because the need is great at Windward Road Primary and Junior High School. This gift will go a far way as we help to bridge the divide.”
Even the children had to weigh in.
Jayden Mcfarlane, Headboy at Rollington Town Primary said “I know that a lot of the children do not have these tablets and I’m glad that you are giving them to us. Children in Jamaica do not have access to these things and would love to learn, so I would like to thank you guys one more time.”
The monitor for grade 2, at Treadlight Primary stated: “Thank you for the tablets and helping us. There’s a lot of things on them that we can learn. Thank you.”
Malachi Wilkins, Prefect at the Windward Road Primary and Junior High School said: “I would like to say thank to the Most Honourable Fayval Williams, The Toots Foundation and Ms. Shepherd for these gifts. I know they will help many students around Jamaica to be more educated.”