Premier and Minister of Education in the Nevis Island Administration the Hon. Joseph Parry called for the cooperation of parents in the St. Thomas Parish with the introduction of the Homework Assistance Programme.
The call came on Wednesday May 02, 2007, as he addressed villagers of the Jessups community at a town hall meeting. An initiative of the ruling Nevis Reformation Party-led Nevis Island Administration, the programme which was launched as part of the Social Action Programme targets primary school students aged 5-12.
The programme has already been implemented in all the villages of the St. John’s parish and is expected to commence shortly in Combermere and Hanleys Road.
“We need the parents to allow their children to be in this programme. Forms are going to be sent to the parents and interested parents will fill the forms out. We will bus the children home, even their home is a few yards away. I don’t want anything to happen to your children, Jessups, Barns Ghaut, Cotton Ground and Westbury their children will be bussed home after [classes] and we will have somebody on the busses to supervise them because they must behave on the buses until they get home,” he said.
According to Mr. Parry, the people of Cotton Ground Village insisted that they wanted the programme to commence immediately at the St. Thomas Primary School right after school.
Mr. Parry noted that the people of Cotton Ground were enthusiastic about the programme and hoped that their enthusiasm would be mirrored throughout the parish since the intension of the programme was to strengthen the children at an early age. It would get them accustom to doing homework in preparation for the volume of work they would encounter once they got to secondary school and beyond.
The Education Minister said though teachers had already signed up for the programme, he urged others to volunteer their time to the programme. All teachers are offered a monthly stipend of $500 to supervise classes three days weekly. He said a teacher would be needed for every 15 students.
He said the programme which was orchestrated by the Hon. Hensley Daniel, Minister with responsibilities for Social Transformation, and Youth on Nevis addressed an inherited education system which automatically promoted students by age.
“We have been looking at the performance of children in the schools since we got into office in July last year and we have been concerned that children are moving up every year automatically. They are leaving primary school, they are going to high school and right up until they graduate they are not strong readers. They do not have a good education background and we have been asking ourselves why this is happening. It is the system that we have presently, that promotes children according to age and we are saying that is not good.
We are very happy that some other island in the Caribbean has come to that realisation. So what we have decided to do is to try to strengthen the students when they are small to give them the kind of support that they need and the first thing that we are starting with is the Homework Assistance Programme for primary schools,” he said.
He said the success of the programme would be determined through the results of the Tests of Standards (local examinations used to determine which form each student would be placed in) over the next few years.