Tue | May 23, 2017

Rhodes scholars focus on rural schools

Published:Sunday | July 12, 2015 | 7:00 AM
Students from the May Day and Mile Gully high schools participate in class during the 2013 TEACH Caribbean summer camp.

Starting tomorrow, more than 90 students from four rural non-traditional high schools will be immersed in an intensive Rhodes Scholar-supported 'boot camp', geared to improve their competence in maths and English.

The five-week camp is part of the TEACH Caribbean programme, a not-for-profit organisation, established by a group of Jamaican Rhodes Scholars.

The programme is being supported by the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), and endorsed by the Ministry of Education. The main participants will be students from the May Day and Mile Gully high schools in Manchester and Brimmer Vale and Islington high schools, in St Mary.

"Maths and English are foundation competencies which students need to move forward; however, many children continue to face serious challenges with the subjects. And our students, particularly in our rural institutions, do not always get the same attention as those in urban schools with similar challenges," stressed Mariame McIntosh Robinson, conceptualiser of the TEACH Caribbean programme, who is also a Rhodes Scholar.

Fewer than 40 per cent of students who sit English Language at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level pass the subject, while almost half fail maths, data from the Economic and Social Survey by the Planning Institute of Jamaica shows. And, the performance in the subject areas among non-traditional schools is much lower.

TEACH Caribbean, which ran a three-year pilot with seed funding from the Rhodes Trust, has already observed marked improvements in the performance of students at May Day and Mile Gully High Schools in Manchester, where the initiative started.

The current Manchester cohort, which started with TEACH Caribbean in summer 2013, improved their average scores from 54 per cent to 79 per cent in maths, and from 44 per cent to 69 per cent in English in 2013.

In 2014, maths scores increased from 30 per cent to 51 per cent; and from 50 per cent to 65 per cent in English.

"The ultimate metric will be the percentage of our students who achieve a pass ranging from grades one to three in maths and English when they sit the CSEC exams in 2017. Our goal is that the majority of our students must pass CSEC maths and English," said McIntosh Robinson.