JIS News

KINGSTON — Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr. Karen Hilliard, says the agency will evaluate the Camp Summer Plus 2011 programme to assess its effectiveness, after it closes.

The specialised programme, which runs July 11 to August 22, is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Education and USAID, and is geared at raising educational achievement levels among low performing students at the Grade Three level. The camp provides a rigorous academic programme that enables students to achieve mastery in core subjects, and includes an array of enrichment activities lasting five weeks.

Speaking to JIS News Tuesday July 19, 2011, during a visit to the camp at the Shortwood Teachers' College, Kingston, Dr. Hilliard explained that Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, had expressed “a very strong desire” to replicate the model in all six education regions.

“So we are hoping that we can deliver the best possible service for the students at the lowest possible cost so that the Ministry, within its own resources, can afford to replicate this for other children who may be struggling with reading and math at Grade Three,” she said.

She also noted that the model was still considered innovative and experimental in the United States.

“So we are excited that we have such interest here in Jamaica to try new things, and to do anything possible to meet the Ministry’s goal of 100 per cent literacy by the Fourth Grade by 2015,” she added.

USAID’s Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mark Feierstein, Dr. Hilliard and other agency officials met with senior teachers and interacted with the students participating in the programme, during the visit.

Mr. Feierstein told JIS News that he was pleased with the students’ progress, and it was very exciting to see them learning and having fun, at the same time.

“I would recommend anyone who wants to see the progress the Ministry of Education is making and the kind of investments the USAID is making, to come here and see these kids and see how they are advancing,” he said.

He noted that the programme has reinforced what the Government and USAID are trying to do, in terms of using education as a tool to assist the nation’s youth to become productive citizens.

“We talk a lot about the economy and training the next generation to be productive workers, and the best way to do that is through education. So, this is really the lynchpin of everything the USAID and the Government of Jamaica is trying to do,” he said.

Camp Co-ordinator, Sonia Williams, said the programme was assisting with the learning needs of children who, at summer time, would normally be wasting time, or not focusing on school work.

“This is a golden opportunity for some of them, albeit a small number, to come up to Shortwood Teachers College and enjoy what Camp Summer Plus has to offer,” she said.

The students get help with their mathematics and reading skills, as well as help with developing their character, and they learn how to get along with each other and how to appreciate the beauty of Jamaica.

“They go on field trips on Fridays, but do the regular class work in the mornings for math and reading, and in the afternoons they have fun doing things like dance and creative work, painting, music, physical education, and working in the computer lab,” she explained.

Camp Summer Plus is part of the Jamaica Basic Education Project, jointly funded by USAID and the Government of Jamaica, which seeks to increase literacy fluency and foundation mathematics skills in Grades One to Three.

The camp will benefit 125 students from eight schools in the Ministry’s Region 1: Trench Town, Denham Town, New Providence, Boys Town Whitfield Town, Tavares Garden and Drew Avenue primary schools and John Mills Primary and Junior High School.

 

By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter