March 20, 2014
A pilot Education Community Service Initiative (ECSI) which will involve 20 students of the Charlestown Secondary School and 15 students of the Gingerland Secondary School on Nevis was launched on March 17, 2014 at the Charlestown Primary School cafeteria.
During her overview of the volunteer programme, Permanent Secretary in the Nevis Island Administration’s Ministry of Education, Lornette Queeley-Connor, explained that in 2012 she drafted the proposal for the initiative, after recording a series of complaints from the business community as well as individuals within the wider society, that the island’s children were not being adequately prepared for the wider world.
“The objectives of the ECSI then, are manifold. Primarily though, it is our aim, through this programme, to develop in students a commitment to community service, to help create a more sophisticated labour force equipped with competencies, knowledge and workplace skills that cannot be developed only in school, to inculcate positive values and attitudes towards self, others and country.
“The intention then, based on what people were saying was to strengthen our efforts to develop skills and competencies among our youth, to help them create personal and professional networks to place them on the radar of potential employers, getting people out there to see that our young people are worth their mettle in a positive way and by creating an avenue to have our young people to be able to give back, while at the same time assessing or actively pursuing potential career goals. Knowing that they made a positive impact on someone is an emotionally uplifting experience that never can be matched by money or fame,” she said.
Twenty-five organisations have partnered with the NIA’s Ministry of Education to pilot the ECSI and will be required to complete monthly attendance and evaluation sheets for each volunteer. These records will be assessed by the ECSI steering commitment to determine whether each student has successfully completed the programme.
The Permanent Secretary clarified that the pilot programme targets third and fourth form students of the public secondary schools on Nevis. Each student will be expected to complete 50 hours of community service, at least 10 hours with each organisation, and will not be financially compensated for their time. Upon the successful completion of the programme, the children’s volunteer hours will be made a part of their school records.
The programme is expected to become a requirement for all secondary schools on Nevis. Subsequent to a successful pilot, students will be expected to complete 100 hours of community service over a two-year period.
“It is hoped that after a successful pilot programme that this initiative would be tabled as a requirement for graduation from every secondary school on the island of Nevis in the not-too-distant future.
“The idea, we believe, is workable and well suited to 21st century trends and could only redound to great benefits to the people of Nevis, in particular, and the entire global community. Once our young people are given that chance to serve we are fully confident that they will serve well,” she said.