The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, has welcomed the first set of high school students from Panama for the programme Panama Bilingue-English As A Second Language (ESL).
While the ESL project began in 2008, Panama is the latest country to get on board. Forty students between the ages of 18 and 19 will go through training for the next four months.
In 2015, Cave Hill Campus principal Professor Eudine Barriteau signed an academic cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Education in Panama to promote the training of bilingual teachers and students that country needs for its sustainable and successful growth.
According to administrative coordinator of the ESL programmes, Sonia Johnson, the Panama Bilingue is rooted in the belief Panamanians must become bilingual if the country is to achieve its vision for growth and development.
“In the words of the president, bilingualism is a ‘fundamental tool to increase competitiveness and social mobility’. Bilingual Panama aims to train thousands of teachers and high school students,” she said.
Johnson said it was an honour for the Cave Hill Campus to enter into a partnership with Panama and to be entrusted with the care and development of the 40 outstanding young people for the next four months.
The programme will seek to improve the students’ skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing in English in three months. In their final month, they will undertake two workshops –– The Fundamentals Of Business and Tourism Awareness, which will include a job attachment.
In addressing the students this morning, Baritteau stressed that the university would do its part to strengthen ties between Panama and Barbados.
“Today, we begin the process of welcoming the first cohort of what we hope will be hundreds and hundreds of Panamanians to Cave Hill Campus and Barbados. This programme is also part of a broader initiative led by the Government of Barbados to deepen relations with Panama . . . . At the University of the West Indies we intend to be part of the deepening of those ties,” the professor said.
“Not only do we want to offer Panamanians our expertise in English as a second language, but the Cave Hill Campus has a dynamic suite of programmes in every faculty that we believe will interest you once you have mastered the English language,” Barriteau added.
She also urged the students not to pass up the opportunity to take part in the highly anticipated Crop Over.
“I expect that you will take the opportunity to participate in our annual Crop Over Festival in July, in which you find many similarities to various regional Carnivals. However, Barbados’ Crop Over Festival has its own uniqueness.
“Do not pass up an opportunity to jump in a Crop Over band. And do not at all be surprised if you see the principal jumping alongside you.
“Our own campus Carnival is later this month. It will offer you a taste of what to expect, and the possibility of gaining any needed practice or rehearsal,” Barriteau explained encouragingly.