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PNP Launches Education And Training Commission

The commission dubbed Education and Training Re-Imagined is geared at providing a platform for debate, dialogue, and a consensus around an appropriate policy and funding framework for driving and sustaining the transformation and modernisation of the education and training system at every level.

The Elaine Foster-Allen chaired seven-member commission has five main deliverables:

– A comprehensive road map to reposition Jamaica’s education and training system, consistent with Vision 2030 but also articulating a vision and signposts up to 2050.

– Redefined metrics/scorecard for measuring the efficiency, performance, progress, or the quality of education.

– Recommendation of structures and approaches to promote equity and social justice for all.

–Recommendations for the repositioning of teacher education development.

– Recommendations to promote learning at all levels of the education and training system.

The other members of the commission are Patricia Sutherland, Dr Christopher Clarke, Petrona McLeod, Gary Francis, Heather Murray and Patrick Barrett (aka Tony Rebel) with Opposition Spokesperson on Education, Ronnie Thwaites, as ex officio.

Success rates for people quitting smoking hit record high

Success rates for smokers trying to give up have hit a record high in part thanks to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, figures reveal.

Nearly 20% of those who attempted to quit in the first half of 2017 managed to kick the habit, a University College London report shows.

By contrast, over the past decade the average has been 15.7%. UCL researchers defined successful quitting as not having smoked in the previous 12 months.

The increase in those giving up has been driven by a sharp increase in kicking the habit among the less well off. Success rates among poorer people have historically been low but, for the first time, smokers with manual jobs have practically the same chance of quitting as those in white collar jobs.

E-cigarettes have become the most popular method of quitting nationwide. In many ways, they mimic the experience of smoking a cigarette and are a far more attractive proposition for many people than putting on a nicotine patch. Their usage, combined with local stop smoking services, is the most effective way to give up.

The news comes as Public Health England (PHE) prepare to launch new TV adverts to encourage people to try e-cigarettes if they are struggling to quit regular smoking.

The UCL report gives a number of other reasons to explain why people are enjoying success in quitting smoking.

The added restrictions on smoking in public places and elsewhere discourages the practice, the banning of the use of attractive brand imagery on tobacco packaging has seen sales fall sharply, plus there has been the development of a strong anti-smoking culture in England.

This has helped stop-smoking campaigns such as Stoptober, which runs through October, become so effective. Last year more than half (53%) of all those taking part in Stoptober used an e-cigarette as a quitting aid.

This year the TV ad for the campaign will promote e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking while the campaign will do more to encourage smokers keen to try e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking.

Not everyone is convinced of the benefits of e-cigarettes though. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has issued new guidance that does not list e-cigarettes as an aid to stopping smoking.

It warns that patients should be told by doctors there is currently little evidence on the benefits or harms of e-cigarettes. They are, indeed, not a universal panacea and experts are keen to stress the challenges that lay ahead.

The deputy chief medical officer, Prof Gina Radford, said: “The battle against smoking is far from over – it is still the country’s biggest killer, causing 79,000 deaths a year. And for every death, another 20 smokers are suffering from a smoking-related disease.

“Far too many people are still dying as a result of smoking but there has never been a better time to quit – the culture has changed, strong legislation is in place and effective support is available.

Community Learning Centers continue to grow as new director comes on board

Seventeen years ago, the idea of community schools — turning schools into neighborhood and family resource hubs — filtered into the Lincoln consciousness.

It did so by way of a $100,000 grant to the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools, which used the money to commission a study to gauge community interest in the concept.

“Resoundingly, everyone said ‘Yes, we want to see the community and district work together,’” said LeAnn Johnson, who a year later found herself co-director of Lincoln’s version of community schools known as Community Learning Centers.

Events happened quickly after the study: the LPS foundation piloted four after-school programs based on the community school concept at Clinton, Saratoga and Elliott elementary schools and one joint program combining three northeast Lincoln schools. The same year, LPS got a federal grant to start its own programs and administrators decided the foundation and district should combine their efforts.

They added programs at five more schools and hired Johnson and Cathie Petsch as co-directors of the new initiative.

Today, 19 elementary schools, six middle schools and one high school have Community Learning Centers that offer a variety of after-school programming and connections with community resources.

And beginning next month, Johnson will retire — four years after her co-director retired — and the CLC initiative will welcome the first new director since its inception.

Nola Derby-Bennett, executive director of The Hub, which provides services to young people in foster care, involved in the justice system or who have dropped out of school, said she’s excited about finding ways to promote even more community involvement in the programs and connect kids to the university.

“To help the CLC kids envision their futures,” she said. “For them to see what’s available right here in Lincoln.”

Derby-Bennett will be taking over an initiative that relies on many agencies working together to serve kids and has figured out how to become an integral part of the community, Johnson said.

“I’m proud of the fact that we’ve kept this through three mayors and three (school) superintendents,” Johnson said. “That doesn’t happen a lot, and that’s important.”

She said she’s also proud of how nonprofit organizations continue to work together.

“That’s what I’m most proud of,” she said. “That collectively we’ve done good work.”

The initiative spent $2.05 million in 2015-16 in public and private money to fund the programs that served more than 5,000 students, all at high-poverty schools.

It hasn’t always been easy: The CLC initiative has survived the threat of losing federal grants and weathered disputes between the city and school district officials over who should pay for what, and how to best make sure it remains sustainable.

Each CLC works differently, but the overall structures are similar.

LPS provides the space for the before- and after-school programs for free and two years ago assumed the administrative costs, including the salaries of Johnson and her assistant. In 2015-16, LPS spent $294,000 from its general fund budget.

Ten different organizations act as lead agencies that run the programs. Supervisors are paid by the agencies, with federal funds and grants.

Collectively, the agencies spent $1.85 million, which includes fees charged to families, and child care subsidies. The city’s Parks and Recreation Department is one of those agencies and spent $548,896 in 2015-16.

That academic year, the CLCs used $213,492 in federal Title I money, $744,000 in federal grants and $198,000 in private grants.