Church rescues school dropouts
HIGHGATE, St Mary:
For the last seven years, the Clermont Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in Highgate, St Mary, has hosted Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) programmes to provide a second chance at education to residents of the community.
According to the church's first elder, Brenton Scott, the initiative targets talented but underachieving young people and adults and offers them a wide range of partially funded courses run by professionals.
Speaking recently with Family and Religion, he said: "About seven or eight years ago, we started a project to help individuals who have dropped out of school because of either pregnancy or maybe their attitude. We have a number of teachers at the church who volunteer, so through our school in Port Maria, we get these people to take their CXC examinations.
"We don't charge because as part of the programme, we have people (also from the church) who help to pay for the examinations. In this year's batch, we have around 16 students from the ages of 16 to around 40 years old, and the classes we're offering include English language, principles of business, social studies, and human and social biology.
"I would say that it's going quite well because the other day, I was in traffic and realised that one of the police officers on the street was a lady from the community who we had helped. There are a number of individuals like that who have benefited from this project and would not have had that opportunity if we didn't help them."
Scott, who functions as the Northeast Jamaica Conference of SDA's director of publishing, notes that the Clermont church's benevolent CXC programme frequently attracts participants from other communities and believes the parish would benefit greatly if more churches were to launch similar schemes.
He explained: "The reason we started this project was because we found there were individuals in the area who had the ability to do these subjects, but were parents and had to work. Their work or job tied them down, so for them to be able to provide for their families takes a long time, if ever.
"So if we give them this opportunity to get another job or go on to do further studies, it will help them out. I think it's going really well. One year, we had up to 60 to 70 doing classes. We also find that when parents are doing these subjects, it helps to motivate their children. This kind of outreach project is something I would recommend and think all churches should do if they really want to make a significant impact on the people who we serve."