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The PDF Invests in Youth Development Through Music

Article, Press Releases — November 06, 2014

The National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica received a J$5 million grant from the Fund to further promote the musical development of disadvantaged youth in Jamaica through the development of a training centre at the St. Jago High School in St. Catherine. The National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica (NYOJ) is a non-profit, non-government organization engaged in empowering Jamaican youths through classical music training and the development of youth orchestras. The NYOJ’s program provides a dynamic after-school educational environment that focuses on teamwork and personal development through classical music training. The program fosters self-esteem, discipline, and dedication by engaging youth from underprivileged backgrounds and those who have a history of anti-social behavior.

The NYOJ programme was inspired by El Sistema in Venezuela. El Sistema is a publicly financed voluntary sector music education programme consisting of 125 youth orchestras in Venezuela. Seventy to ninety per cent of the students come from poor socio-economic backgrounds with approximately 350,000 children attending its music schools across the country. The programme is well-known for rescuing young people in extremely impoverished circumstances from the environment of drug abuse and crime.

The successes of the NYOJ’s existing centres at the St. Andrew Technical High School in West Kingston and Kingston College in Eastern Kingston, have led to an overwhelming demand to build new centres to serve other communities in Jamaica.

The organization’s move into St. Catherine signals the genesis of an expansion programme conceptualized to reach marginalized youth across the entire country. New centres will maintain the goal of empowering at-risk youths through classical music training. The mix of music education, practice and performance aims to impart life skills, increase school attendance, and challenge negative cultural preconceptions while developing practical musical abilities.

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