TEN teachers in Saint Lucia, who were the proud recipients of scholarships provided by the Government of Saint Lucia for a Junior Life Programme at SERVOL (Service Volunteered for All) in Trinidad & Tobago, have expressed their gratitude to the government. The programme commenced in September of last year and concluded in December 2019. The recipients were chosen from the Centre for Adolescent Renewal & Education (C.A.R.E), Balata Combined School, Carmen Rene Memorial School, Dame Pearlette Louisy Primary School and Lady Gordon Opportunity Centre.
This is a programme which focuses on bridging the educational gap between primary and secondary school for students who scored below 30 % in the Common Entrance Examination.
Danielle Dubois, Communications Officer at the Office of the Prime Minister, intimated that the aim of the scholarships was to enhance the capabilities of teachers in performing the necessary interventions to allow primary school students who have been traditionally marginalised, to thrive and flourish.
At a panel discussion held at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday, the recipients of the SERVOL scholarships gathered to explore the benefits derived from their training programme, and to share their experiences at SERVOL, as part of the initial phase of imparting the knowledge gained during their course of study.
According to Dubois, “The training was consistent with the key aspects of the education quality improvement program which places emphasis on implementing policies and strategies geared toward the provision of the requisite socio, psychosocial, emotional and academic support services for at-risk students within Saint Lucia’s primary level of education.”
She said the training programme was in tandem with the “Education for All” and “No Child Left Behind” agendas. She added that the training received by teachers “will result in improved student retention, improved student performance and sustained ripple socio-economic benefits as the needs of the children are met.”
The entire panel of teachers were unanimous that the training received at SERVOL would prove effective in building self-esteem and improving literacy and numeric levels in at-risk students. They also agreed that the training was beneficial for instructing students with various learning disabilities. According to teachers, one of the focal points of the programme was the use of respectful intervention to improve classroom behaviours and to promote responsible decision-making in students. The teachers were also instructed in conflict resolution strategies and in showing empathy to children from troubled homes and troubled backgrounds.
Project Coordinator in the Department of Education, Mary Grace Auguste, in her turn said that the mandate of the Department of Education was “To foster the development of a literate, informed, creative and productive society so that no child should be left behind.” She added, “If every child can function then our thrust for economic development and sustainable development will be more vigorous.”
In order to achieve this in the current global environment Auguste said that teachers needed to cater to the diverse learning needs of students while implementing emotional literacy programmes.
Gale Rigobert, Minister for education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, was also present at the panel discussion. She remarked, “Every child whose life we can impact positively can make a world of difference, and that is why we are committed to our call. No child will be left behind because we sincerely believe that every child can learn.”