Sun | May 28, 2017

Children First celebrates GNAT success

Published:Monday | September 21, 2015 | 9:00 AM
Claudette Pious

Following their enrolment at the Children First Achievement Centre two years ago, 15 students challenged by socioeconomic circumstances and performing below average literacy and reading levels, have received renewed hope.

Their academic journey is smoother this September, following their success in the Ministry of Education Grade Nine Achievement Test (GNAT) in May. The Children First Achievement Centre is a remedial education flagship initiative of Children First Agency. The centre currently serves more than 100 unattached and at-risk children between the ages of 10 and 16.

Claudette Pious, executive director of the agency, said the performance of the students was a result of the institution's adoption of a holistic approach to drive optimal performance among the academically or otherwise challenged students.

"Most of the 11 and 12-year-old students were reading either at the grade-one level, or were non-readers, when they entered the programme. Some were from very poor single-parent households, some were working and others displayed behavioural challenges, which resulted in expulsion from the schools they were attending," Pious explained. She also emphasised and credited the significant contribution of corporate donors.

SIGNIFICANT SUPPORT

"We received significant support from external entities, which allowed us to employ a teacher specifically for the GNAT preparation, a counsellor to identify and address the challenges of students, as well as to incorporate sessions for parents through parental counselling sessions," she said. Those parental sessions, Pious highlighted, were extremely beneficial, as participants were given effective and practical tips, which allowed them to be better parents and to take more responsibility for their children's future.

Rose Miller, grants manager, JN Foundation, said the achievement of the students was the outcome of a collaborative exercise, which was specially tailored to address their challenges, while equipping them with life and social skills, as well as tools for academic success.

"The future will be a lot brighter for these students. Children First has prepared them to gain a place in our formal educational system. Success stories such as this one certainly justify JN Foundation's continued commitment and belief in giving our youngsters a chance to realise their full potential through education," she said. Still basking in the recent GNAT success, which coincided with the 18th anniversary of Children First, Pious vowed the performance of the recent graduates will be closely monitored.