The programme, dubbed the Cognitive Initiative, is now in its third year, having been commenced in 2013; a year after former students of Queen’s College created the non-profit organisation. On Tuesday the Foundation hosted a day-long training session for the twenty volunteers who will be facilitating English Language and Math sessions with selected students.
The foundation opted to tutor students in Math and English Language since statistics show Guyanese students have some of the worst pass rates in these areas.
The Math syllabus includes instructions in currency and conversion, basic algebra and consumer arithmetic. The English syllabus includes instructions in comprehension, use of capital letters and punctuation marks, subject-verb agreement, present and present continuous tenses, and creative writing.
This year, the Foundation will be working with students from the New Campbelville Secondary School, St. John’s College, St. Georges High School and the St. Winefride’s Secondary. These schools were selected as they are among those which continue to show some of the poorer pass rates.
Benab Foundation Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Saevion David-Longe, explained that the students who have been selected to benefit from the initiative were recommended by their teachers. He said that three schools were targeted when the initiative started in 2013, but that the number grew in 2014 after positive results were recorded.
During a presentation to the trainee-volunteers David-Longe explained that the initiative is “deigned to offer struggling students remedial tutoring during the August holiday period, as well as to conduct research to improve the educational process – primarily the learning experience.”
The Foundation says that, “each week students will be required to attend (tutorials) for three days, four hours each day. The programme will begin with a one off test in general Math and English, as required by the syllabus at that level to measure and ascertain student capabilities before undertaking the programme.”
A second assessment will be executed at the end of the program to assess whether the students have improved.
David-Longe shared that when the first test was done for last year’s initiative the results showed a 24% pass-rate in Math and a 39% pass rate in English.When the second assessment was done at the end of the programme though, he said, there was acute improvement as students registered pass rates of 69% and 83% in Math and English Language respectively. The foundation worked with around 90 students last year.
Volunteers will also benefit from the initiative as personal capacity-building sessions will be held for them every Thursday.