Sat | Dec 14, 2019

IGT’s after School Advantage Centres making a difference

Published:Sunday | December 1, 2019 | 6:51 AM

IGT Jamaica’s After School Advantage (ASA) Centres, including four Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) sites, have benefited from recent improvements. Members of staff from the Company’s technology department visited the ASA Centre at SOS Stony Hill Children’s Village to assess the computers previously donated by IGT Jamaica. These upgrades provide opportunities for staff to interact with students and share information on a range of technology-related topics.

Mary’s Child, operated by Mustard Seed Communities, has also received additional supplies this year and is moving ahead with business process outsourcing (BPO) training in January 2020.

“The ASA Centre is a springboard to greater things for our girls,” says Sheron Williams, acting centre manager of the WCJF in Spanish Town. The Centre has a new computer teacher and a new cohort of students this term, Williams noted that all the younger students passed the Grade Nine Achievement test and have been placed in high and technical high schools, mostly at the grade-nine level. The new students also received a special National Heroes assignment. The results were excellent, after the girls researched online. The Centre also acknowledged students with small tokens after they conducted research for a National Motivation and Affirmation Day at the ASA Centre.

At the Savanna-la-Mar Women’s Centre, Mellissa Boothe-Anderson reported that “the students have benefited tremendously” from the ASA Centre since the introduction of the Virtual Delivery Interface programme for Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) students, who are now the primary users of the ASA Centre. The students also rely on the computers for research, resulting in the successful completion of the school-based assessments (SBA’s). A printer donated to the lab is used to produce resource materials and SBAs. “The majority of the passes have been 50 per cent and above,” added Boothe-Anderson. “One of our students is currently in her second year of Teachers’ college working towards a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. The computers are also used for the practical area of computer studies classes for the lower school.”

WOMEN”S CENTRE

At the Women’s Centre in Mandeville, director Dahlia Johnson was enthusiastic about the impact of the ASA Centre. It is used mainly for research for school assignments, and for IT classes. She also noted that every term, a trainer from the Frederick Douglass Centre visits the ASA Centre to train students in the Microsoft Digital Literacy Program. To date, 27 students have received certification, which will lead to greater employment opportunities.

The young women at Mary’s Child, operated by the Mustard Seed Communities, normally stay for short periods with their babies before moving back to their families and continuing their education. Nevertheless, the ASA Centre has made a big difference in their lives, noted centre director Nadia Williams. Around 30 students successfully completed a pilot training project for entry-level BPO operators at the end of August. Beginning in January 2020, classes of 25 students will receive six months of BPO training at the ASA Centre in partnership with Avasant Foundation Jamaica and trainers from the Alorica call centre. Meanwhile, students use the computers on a continuous basis for homework assignments and to do research for SBAs.