The Jamaica Rastafarian Development Community (JRDC) School grew out of the need and effort of early Settlers in Shashamane concerned with the Education of their Children in a non-English speaking environment. Between 1975 and 1997, Brothers Donald “Flippins” Leach and Karl Hamilton offered the basics of Education in their Homes to the Children of the Settlers. Thereafter, this effort was expanded through the effort of newly arrived Bro. Albert (Teach) Allen, who began conducting School in a Zinc Shed at the Headquarters of the Twelve Tribes of Israel organization. This operation was later relocated to the current 3-Acres Site on land donated by a community Member, with Teach Allen as Director, assisted by Sister Janet McLaughlin, Bro. Karl Hamilton and Bro. Yosef Leach.
The US-based Shashamane Foundation as well as persons of goodwill recognized the effort undertaken by these individuals on the ground in Shashamene and began organizing financial support for the School. Subsequently, the Jamaica Rastafarian Development Community and the Founders of the School formally registered it as part of the newly approved JRDC NGO Project, with the School being the first phase of said Project.
With ongoing funding from our Foundation, the School has evolved from a 1-room Zinc Shed with 15 Students and 2 Teachers in 2002, into a 4-classroom Kindergarten and a modern 2-floor/8-classroom Primary School with Admin Offices, a Library, a Computer Room, a 1-room Art Building, a Kitchen & Canteen and modern Concrete Toilets for Girls and Boy; all housed on the same 3-Acre Plot of Land. With a current Student population of 450 (52% Girls) and a Staff of 36 (76% Women), the School receives no Government funding whatsoever and the JRDC relies totally on private goodwill financial support to cover its annual operating budget, which was U.S. $34,300 in 2010, of which, the Shashamane Foundation contributed the Lion’s share of $24,737 or 72.1%.
Our Foundation supports a paid Staff of 36 consisting of 27 Teachers, 3 Guards, 3 Janitors, a maintenance person, a Secretary and an Administrator; 99% of whom are native Ethiopians. This paid Staff is supplemented by several Community Volunteers, including the Executive Director of the JRDC, who works on a full-time basis in managing the overall day-to-day operation of the School. Over the Seven Years of operation 2003-2010, 500 Students have graduated from Kindergarten (approximately 20 per Class), 2051 Students have attended Grades 1 to 7 (approximately 35 per Class) and 925 Students have graduated from Grade 8 (approximately 32 per Class). High quality Education being offered at the School has resulted in the achievement of consistently high marks by Grade 8 Students, who sit national Examination. JRDC Students have consistently ranked the best in the Region and four of them achieved over 90% on the national Examination Test for the 2009-2010 academic Year.
The School receives no Government funding whatsoever and relies totally on private goodwill financial contributions for the funding of its US$39,000 annual operating Budget, more than 80% of which has been contributed by and through the Shashamane Foundation over the last decade. Since the year 2001, the JRDC Kindergarten and Elementary School has educated over 3,100 Children, 95% of whom are native Ethiopians.
The Shashamane Foundation has been the primary financial Underwriter of the School ever since 2002 and is committed to remaining so into the foreseeable future. Officers of the Foundation work on a voluntary full time basis in spreading awareness of the School and encouraging others to make financial contributions in the following ways:
- Donations. We solicit and accept donations from our families, friends and supports.
- Sponsor the Education of a Child. US$100 will sponsor the Education of a Child for one Year at the School and we are hoping to have at least 400 of the 450 Students sponsored as soon as possible. We invite individuals and organizations to contribute to the survival of this already established and functioning School, by sponsoring at least one Child or as many Children as they can afford. (Please see pledge Form)
- Annual Dinner Dance/Fashion Show. Since 2001, we have been staging an annual Dinner Dance/Fashion Show in Washington, D.C. and since 2004, we have also been staging a similar event in Hartford, Connecticut, with the help of some committed Sisters and Brothers there. We welcome any ideas that anyone may have as to how we may expand this activity to other areas.
- Employee Benefits matching Fund
Over the last few years, a few individuals have chosen us as beneficiaries of their Companies’ Employee benefits matching Fund programmes. We invite others to do likewise as this is another possible way of contributing.
Gifts and Endowments
Under our 501(c)(3) non-profit Charter, we are able to accept Gifts of Real Estate, Stocks & Bonds, etc. and would welcome any such Gifts.
Several of our friends and supporters are Authors, Artists, Musicians and Singers etc., who make their products available to us for sale in our online shop, with all or part of the proceeds going to the Foundation. We invite others to do likewise and we invite our Visitors and Supporters to shop with us online, in aid of this cause (SHOP).
In addition to the U.S. $40,000 per Year required to fund the basic operating Budget of the School over the next five Years, there is a need to add a Science laboratory in order to strengthen and improve the level and quality of Education being offered. This entails the construction of a new Building for this purpose and the acquisition of Furniture and equipment, as soon as possible.
Based on the performance of the School thus far, the Authorities have given the JRDC the Green Light to add Grades 9 and 10, which Students pay a fee to attend in Ethiopia and which would help the School to attain a much greater degree of self-sufficiency and less dependency on external support for its survival.
From the outset more than a Decade ago, we made a conscious decision to do all we could on our own, at a grassroots level to fund the School, until such time as we were able to establish a solid and transparent Track Record that would speak for itself and stand on its own merit. Today, with such a Track Record, we have developed a comprehensive Business Plan/Project Proposal showing the complete history of the School since 2002 and the Blue Print for the next Five Years.
We are now seeking Grant funding to underwrite the Project for the next Five years (2012 to 2016) and are seeking the help of those individuals and organizations that are in a position to help us with this worthy cause. Please contact us for more information.