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JIS News

The Ministry of Education and Youth has earmarked $8 million to the Student Empowerment Programme for the new school year, which begins in September.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Maria Jones, told JIS News that the money would go towards providing resource material to assist secondary school students, who were benefit under the initiative.
The Student Empowerment Programme, which began last year, seeks to provide compensatory learning experiences for those students, who have scored below a certain mark on the Grade Nine Achievement Test (GNAT).
According to Mrs. Jones, the programme was designed for students, who have already had nine years of schooling, but would have not have attained a 9th grade level of achievement.
“It is essentially a programme where we recognise that some of our youngsters, who are in the high school system, need a little bit more help, a little personalized help more than others. This programme has been structured to provide this additional help,” she informed.
The objectives of the programme, she said, are: to teach students how to learn; develop positive self-esteem; make up learning deficits; acquire skills to prepare them to enter the job market and to move into the regular grade 10 programme.
The Permanent Secretary explained that the key features of the Student Empowerment Programme were: routine visual and auditory screening, educational and psychological assessment, an adapted curriculum, enhanced classroom spaces, extended schooling, provision of appropriate support materials and smaller classes to facilitate individualized instruction.
At the start of the programme, the students should be between 16 and 17 years and should previously have been enrolled in an all-age, primary or junior high school. They are placed in special classes of no more than 25 students, where they are taught English Language, Mathematics, Integrated Science, Social Studies and Information Technology.
In addition, each student is exposed to at least one technical subject, along with guidance and counselling, to emphasize personal development; health and family life education; and entrepreneurial skills; while a foreign language course, sports and games are taken with the general school population. Mrs. Jones noted that, “this programme extends the concept of the Competency Shelter, which has been the practice of the Ministry for some time”.