Tue | Dec 1, 2020

Shantavia sees success despite sight challenges

Published:Thursday | July 27, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Shantavia Cain (centre) poses with her mother, Tanya Campbell (right) and Gordon Swaby, CEO of Edufocal.

Shantavia Cain has been diagnosed with severe myopia since birth - a condition that led to serious reading challenges during her school journey. However, the 13-year-old was not daunted and managed to gain a 92. 8 per cent average in the recent Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), making her the top girl among the batch of students who interfaced with the Edufocal platform.

Nearsightedness, or myopia, as it is medically termed, from which Shantavia suffers, is a vision condition in which people can see close objects clearly, but objects farther away appear blurred. People with myopia can have difficulty clearly seeing a movie, or TV screen, or the whiteboard in school.

Speaking with The Gleaner following the awards ceremony, which was held at The Pegasus Jamaica hotel in New Kingston, Tanya Campbell, Shantavia's mother, indicated that it has been an emotionally-challenging journey, having to watch her child sit out a year of school to do surgeries. However, it is an experience she does not regret.

"She was born with it (myopia). The nerves at the back of her eyes weren't properly developed at birth. The last time we went to the doctor to do her medical for Wolmer's (Girls School) they said her vision is 20/70. I remember once I took her to Bustamante (Hospital for Children) for an appointment, and the doctor suggested that I send her to School for the Blind. I told him no, I think she is comfortable at George Headley Primary School," she recalled.

"She is a fighter. She knows what she wants, and she works hard for it. It has been a rough ride because I am a single mother. I have to keep her motivated because there are times [when] she feels like giving up. Sometimes she will say, 'Mommy, remember you are my eyes and I need to do some reading, so you have to come and read for me'. It has been a struggle, but she is determined to succeed," Campbell said.

Campbell and Shantavia also expressed gratitude for Edufocal for increasing the font size to make it easier to read the materials, in addition to providing a fun way of learning.

EduFocal is an online social learning community that offers more than 23,000 preparatory questions, tutorial videos, and study guides for the GSAT and CSEC exams. It is presented in a manner akin to popular role-playing games (RPG).




Chief Executive Officer of Edofocal, Gordon Swaby, said that the company was looking to expand its services as far as Africa. He said that creativity must be a fundamental factor that educators should embrace.

"The students are becoming more and more active on the platform and what I really and truly value is that they communicate on the platform. Students are who are strangers, students from prep school and primary school or students from different prep schools and primary schools, they talk to each other, they motivate each other, they even try to compete with each other."