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The Flanker Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. James has opened a Learning Centre to assist students in the community with virtual learning, as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Centre, which began operating on Monday, February 8, offers free Internet access, as well as the use of digital devices by students from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, under strict COVID-19 guidelines.
This was made possible through the provision of tablets, laptops, Wi-Fi access, printers and other teaching supplies valued at $500,000, by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the Local Partner Development and COVID-19 Response Project.
The items were handed over to the church at a ceremony held at the Flanker Primary and Junior High School on February 5.
In an interview with JIS News, Pastor of the Flanker Adventist church, Alpheus Smith, said the aim of the Centre is to help bridge the learning gap, by assisting students who have not been able to log on to classes due to Internet connectivity issues.
He said the initiative was conceptualised after recognising the challenge being faced by students with accessing classes online.
“We will open to as many students as we will be able to accommodate within this COVID-19 period. We are looking forward to assisting these children, who might not have access to Internet, so that they can continue their educational goals,” he said.
Pastor Smith informed that volunteers from the church will be on hand daily “to oversee and to ensure that they stay true to duty to accomplish the task that they ought to accomplish”.
Meanwhile, Education Director at the religious institution, Maxine Lawrence, said the church will also accommodate students who have resumed face-to-face classes with homework and school projects.
“We have students who leave their school where they have face-to-face classes and will come across and do some homework in the afternoon. We will be mainly catering to the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) students and the CSEC students,” she noted.
Miss Lawrence pointed out that the team of volunteers will also offer psychosocial support to students.
“We will also be having motivational talks with them once or twice per month as a group, in addition to the schooling that they are doing… so we are trying to cater to them on an overall basis,” she said.