To empower students….

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Education Ministry, ILO mentoring project being extended
THE Education Ministry, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Tackle Project, has extended the Voluntary Mentoring Programme, in an effort to empower secondary school students to develop useful skills for making productive life choices.

Making the announcement yesterday, in the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), Coordinator of the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA), Ms. Carol Benn said the extension has already been implemented in five schools and will be introduced in five more, namely Campbellville, Linden Foundation, St. Winifred’s, Fort Wellington and Plaisance Secondary.
She said it targets 3,500 students, including those at risk, truants and others involved in school-based violence.
Benn said the initiative will be of great help to teachers and administrators in the school system.
“Today’s students are faced with far more personal and social pressures than any previous generation and early intervention, through a structured mentoring relationship, has been identified as a successful and powerful way of enabling them to deal with these pressures. Mentoring works; it changes lives, is rewarding for both participants and provides the opportunity for adult citizens to give something back to society,” she explained. 
Benn said 75 mentors, who are part of the scheme, are thoroughly trained and prepared for their roles, which will be executed at the schools, to strengthen contact and build an excellent rapport with students.
A release said Education Minister Shaik Baksh acknowledged that the intervention plays a vital part in re-establishing proper values, attitudes and behaviours in students at schools, where it is most needed.
He emphasized that the goal is to produce academically successful and disciplined students in the school system and noted that the mentoring is one of several interventions in this regard.
Others include the introduction of students’councils, the Health and Family Life Education Progamme (which is now a timetable subject in 70 schools) and the revival of PTAs in most, if not all, schools.
Mr. Baksh also pointed to the work of the Guidance and Counseling Unit in reforming indiscipline students, which will be expanded to reach out to more of them.
These initiatives, he said have been having an impact in reducing absenteeism, improving students behaviour and learning outcomes.
Chief Education Officer Olato Sam said the school is a microcosm of society and the mentoring reinforces the African adage ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.
He stressed that education is a great equaliser and the mentoring provides the avenue for students to not only overcome their challenges but also get the motivation and support to excel academically as well.
Government/ILO Tackle Project Coordinator, Ms. Sharon Patterson also spoke on the occasion.