375 Students to Benefit from ‘Camp Summer Plus’

Photo: JIS Photographer Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites (centre), accepts school supplies from Company Director, Kingston Bookshop, Damani Johnson (right), during Wednesday’s (July 3) official launch of Camp Summer Plus 2013, at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle offices in Kingston. Others sharing the moment are: Principal of Chetolah Park Primary, Robert Smith, and students at the institution.

Approximately 375 grade three students, who are performing below grade level, will receive critical assistance during the summer break through the annual ‘Camp Summer Plus’ programme.

Three one-month camps will be held from July 8 to August 9, where the youngsters will benefit from a rigorous academic programme focused on mathematics and reading, and an array of enrichment activities to raise their educational standard.

The camps will incorporate 28 schools in regions one, four and six. Classes will be held at the Holy Trinity High School in Kingston (region one); Albion Primary and Junior High, St. James (region four); and at Jose Marti High in St. Catherine (region six).

Camp Summer Plus, which is in its third year, involves collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Jamaica Basic Education Project.

Speaking at the official launching ceremony at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle offices in Kingston on Wednesday, July 3, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, said the intervention will prepare the students for the important Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Tests.

He pointed out that children exposed to the programme have the advantage of advancing as much as one grade in their reading ability.

“If our children are able to be sufficiently literate at grade four, then so many other things follow. You get much better results at Grade Six in the GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test), we get much better results at CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate) , and it saves us not only the tremendous amount of wasted efforts, it eases the frustration of our teachers and school administrators, who have to cope with deficiencies in reading and maths,” he argued.

Rev. Thwaites is encouraging other stakeholders, such as churches and members of the private sector, to offer similar interventions across the island.

He noted that engagement of students during the summer holiday is vital, as studies indicate that the weaker performing students regress as much as one grade over the two-month break.

“The Ministry of Education is anxious to collaborate with those who can use this period for constructive engagement of our students…when I have spoken in the past of extending the school year, it’s not a question of having more days in formal classes, but it is understanding the need for an enriching experience for longer periods than are covered by the school terms,” he stated.

In her remarks, Director, Office of Citizen Security, USAID, Nichole Graber informed that some $250,000 will be spent to host the camps.

Ms. Graber informed that this is the last year that the USAID will be funding the initiative as it transitions the programme over to the Ministry of Education. She noted, however, that the agency will continue to provide guidance to the Ministry.

National Coordinator, Sonia Robinson-Glanville, informed that the classes will be held Monday to Friday, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

“We have outstanding instructions and mentoring. The classes are led by highly qualified, certified teachers and we have inspiring guest speakers (as well),” she said, noting that the students will be fed a healthy breakfast and nutritious lunch.

Community Relations Education Officer, Region One, Donna-Rae Fearon Taffe, told JIS News that the students were selected after being identified by the teachers and principals at the various institutions.

“Initially, the region looked at the Grade Four results and we looked at those schools, that are performing way below the 50 per cent in terms of the scores and from those schools we selected eight schools. We then discussed with the principals about their students, who were most needy and who were performing below the grade three level,” she explained.

Some of the corporate donors of the initiative include Kingston Bookshop and Carlong Publishers Limited, which have donated reading and writing materials to the programme.

Contact: Chris Patterson

JIS Social