Placing summer courses on the curriculum
August 23, 2004
WITH days to go before the Summer/August vacation comes to an end and a new school term begins, parents are preparing to send their children back to school.
Many children will no doubt be accompanying their parents on the shopping fest, those parents are eager to demonstrate to their offspring that they are doing their best, under prevailing circumstances, to satisfy their desires
But as many adults will soon be able to testify, an increasingly large percentage of children will be more eager than ever to return to school. These are children who've been participating in summer courses organized, run and/or funded by the Education Ministry and by a large number of non-governmental organizations, community development agencies and churches.
At a closing ceremony last week for a three-week physical education summer course at the Cyril Potter College of Education, every speaker seemed pleasantly surprised that the 82 children aged 12 to 16 who participated in the programme were so enthusiastic.
They had begun planning in earnest for the programme in April, conscious that they'd be asking the children to give up one-third of their holidays to train in physical education and be tutored in English Language and Mathematics.
But as co-organizer Col. McPherson and others disclosed, after the second day, the children were the first to come out for a session, asked questions that demonstrated they were interested and willing to learn, and participated with a passion.
One participant, 13-year-old Brian Robinson from Buxton, said he learned a lot about discipline and etiquette and couldn't wait to return home to share his knowledge with family members and his peers.
All the children also showed great improvements in their English and Mathematics.
Other organizers have given a similarly positive evaluation of student participation in their summer courses, indicating - as the New York Post did when it reported on Aug.19 that half of the 10,000 students who had been in danger of flunking third grade will be promoted - that summer courses do have the effect of slashing failure rates in the classroom.
It's the closest we have come to having scientific data determining that the participation of children in courses this time of year has a positive impact on increasing classroom achievement.
The Education Ministry should therefore consider devising a summer course curriculum. It's going to be costly, no doubt, but it should be considered a worthy investment in giving our children, particularly those who may be slow learners or disadvantaged in some other way, another opportunity to forge ahead with their education.