Feature
Member of the Jamaica Middle East Diaspora (JMED) and Project Coordinator, 'CSEC Studython', ​Sania Green Reynolds.
Photo: Contributed

Students preparing for the annual Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations are slated to benefit from an online study and revision programme being undertaken by the Jamaica Middle East Diaspora (JMED).

The initiative, dubbed ‘CSEC Studython,’ got under way this year with students from three high schools – Edwin Allen in Clarendon, Holland in Trelawny; and Newell in St. Elizabeth. It involves partnership with teachers in the island.

CSEC Studython is being spearheaded by a team led by JMED member Sania Green Reynolds, a former teacher at Newell High, who resides in the Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The team includes 11 mathematics, science and English teachers, some of whom have left Jamaica for close to 30 years and are living in the Middle East.

Mrs. Green Reynolds tells JIS News that the idea to start the Studython was fuelled by “a desire to provide support and empower CSEC students amidst the challenges presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic”, which saw the closure of schools plants and learning continued remotely.

Schools were temporarily reopened on June 8 to prepare students for their exit examinations, which started on July 13.

“We wanted to give them the confidence that they might have lacked going into CSEC exams, knowing that some students might have missed classes. We wanted to reinforce what the teachers might have been working on with them,” Mrs. Green Reynolds says.

She tells JIS News that she approached one of the administrators of the JMED, Marcia Clarke, and after an initial meeting “we were able to come up with a solid plan as to what CSEC Studython 2020 will look like and how it is that we are going to make a difference in the lives of students”.

A key component of the project, she notes, is to develop a working relationship with teachers in Jamaica.

“Teachers will be able to share their teaching experiences and at the same time, learn new methods of teaching as well as find new ways in dealing with subjects that students might find challenging,” she tells JIS News.

The first Studyton was held on July 2 and 3 via the ZOOM platform, with 120 students drawn from the three selected institutions benefiting from interactive revision sessions in mathematics, English and integrated science facilitated by JMED teachers.

Over the two-day period, students were able to win attractive prizes such as tablets, laptop, and phone credit. Teachers were also given data credit to keep in touch with their students.

Newell High School teacher Yanta Logan tells JIS News that the students were grateful for the support and says she is looking forward to the institution being selected again to participate in Studython 2021.

“I really feel that it was a very good gesture… [and] we are really appreciative of what they have done,” she says.

“More than ever, persons are using the Internet and it is good that they (JMED) would have done that,” she adds.

In addition to the subject revision, the students also benefited from training in ‘Success Mindset’.

Mrs. Green Reynolds, who led the session, tells JIS News that the training was well-received by the students.

“They were excited about the fact that they were taught how to train their minds going into the exams and how to find their flow,” she says.

The CSEC Studython Coordinator notes that the facilitators were encouraged by the level of engagement from the students and their overall attitude to the revision sessions.

“As a result of this excitement and opportunity to give back in such a novel and authentic manner, other educators and donors in the diaspora have registered their interest to come on board for the future staging of the event,” she tells JIS News.

Mrs Green Reynolds, who is a teacher of English and primary years programme in the UAE, has high praises for her Jamaican counterparts, who directed the facilitators as to the needs of the students.

“The teachers were able to provide us with a list of students that they needed to come on board and the different skills they wanted us to reinforce with the students,’ she explains.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Green Reynolds says there are plans to host an “even bigger and more improved CSEC Studython for 2021”.

“We are now at the stage where we are planning for next year. It is definitely going to be more of a marathon as opposed to a sprint,” she notes, adding that there are plans to dedicate one day for each subject as well as to introduce others.

“We plan to customise it where we get to work with the students from the beginning of the year, so going forward, we will be working with them on a timely basis… and we will go through the school year with them as well,” she explains.

Mrs. Green Reynolds tells JIS News that she is happy to give back to her homeland in this way.

“I am an activist. I believe in social responsibility and I believe that as a daughter of the soil, I should be giving back, especially making every effort to leave a legacy and touching lives as well,” she says.

She notes that the members of JMED also welcome the opportunity to positively impact the lives of students in Jamaica, “who will become the country’s future”.

The JMED has approximately 100 active members. The group has undertaken several projects in education and community development and has worked with a number of high schools and tertiary institutions to bolster integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in schools, robotics education and capacity building through the provision of professional development.

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