By successfully completing the A Ganar programme, Barbadian students are showing, more and more, their ability to develop skills and qualities required in the workplace.
Education lead specialist with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Dr. Sabine Reible-Aubourg underlined this recently in her address to over 250 students from secondary and post-secondary institutions at the A Ganar graduation ceremony, at the Hilton Barbados Resort.
Dr. Reible-Aubourg, who was also on the island to assess the progress of the Skills For the Future (SFTF) programme last month, commended Barbados. She said the completion of A Ganar spoke to the students’ commitment as they finished something they had started; to their curiosity “as they were willing to try something new”; and, above all, to their openness, as they were willing to learn about themselves and others.
Moreover, she noted that their involvement in the sports component of A Ganar brought out their athletic prowess and, through working and playing with others, highlighted their knack for team work.
“[It all] speaks to your self-discipline because you had to follow and respect rules and, most importantly, it demonstrates that you have ambition for yourself and that you are willing to improve yourself!” she stressed.
According to the IDB official, the A Ganar programme, which started here in 2013, continues to be one of the success stories of the SFTF. Elaborating, she said: “Since then, the programme has grown and expanded. In 2013, it started in two secondary schools and today, it has expanded into nine and two post-secondary institutions where approximately 1,200 students have registered to participate. In 2016, due to a grant by the United States Agency of International Development, three more schools were added.”
It was pointed out that the IDB and Government had learnt a lot and was improving A Ganar yearly. Dr. Reible-Aubourg noted they took great care to monitor and identify “the parts that worked well and those that needed improvements in order to make it more attractive and relevant” for the youth.
Highlighting some outcomes of this monitoring, she said: “The programme has experienced a 20 per cent increase in its graduation rate as compared to 2013; there has been an increase in the number of students placed to work assignments and, currently, students can choose from 17 areas for job attachments, compared to only seven in 2013.”
The programme also organized its first summer camp this year, which was called the Summit for Employability, and 13 students in this third cohort were employed after their work assignment.
Additionally, for the first time this year, employers were asked to fill out a survey to obtain feedback on the work performance of A Ganar participants. The IDB Education Specialist said the responses were favourable.
“The results of the survey are out and I am happy to report that the feedback was positive because 88 per cent of the employers thought that you showed excellent or good attendance and you were punctual. Eighty-eight per cent thought that you could express yourselves well or excellent; 86 per cent thought that you are good or excellent team players; and 81 per cent thought that you wanted to improve yourselves,” she said to much applause.
Also addressing the students was Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Ronald Jones, who spoke to the myriad challenges and problems the students would encounter in life’s journey. Acknowledging that this was inevitable, he said it was how the A Ganar graduates handled these that would determine the path they took.
“This programme is an excellent one. It is a commitment by the Government of Barbados and by all of the partners – persons who care about humanity and young people. . . . A Ganar and the school system are here for you. . . . Don’t give up hope; strive, persevere and give it the best that you can give it now that people care about you,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Anna Barrett, programme officer with Partners of the Americas, the executing agency for A Ganar, said the agency was honoured to run the programme throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and welcomed the graduates to “a community of over 15,000 alumni throughout the western hemisphere”.
Emphasizing that A Ganar required hard work and determination, she maintained these were qualities the graduates already possessed.
“You are at the heart of all we do. Today, you will begin a journey as A Ganar alumni, and like the programme itself, it will require determination and dedication. . . . We can’t wait to see what you do next,” she told the youth.
A Ganar is an innovative programme which is Spanish for “to win” or “to earn”. It was created 10 years ago out of an idea from Brazilian soccer player, Pele, and former IDB President Enrique Iglesias, to use soccer as a vehicle to channel the energy and passion of youth to help them develop life skills and find a way to maximize their full potential and to become productive citizens.