The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the life skills programme at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill campus to cut back on the number of schools benefiting from the initiative.
However, the situation provided those who were able to participate in the programme an opportunity to have their voices heard by authorities.
Campus Alumni Officer and facilitator of the Preparing Today for Tomorrow’s Challenges Programme, Sandra Griffith-Carrington, said while nine schools were initially part of the cohort, only six could be facilitated this year because of COVID-19 restrictions and the fact that some students faced challenges in accessing online classes.
“Many schools were not ready for us to do this online. You would recall that some students did not even have laptops and the Open Campus, we donated 100 laptops to this programme,” she told the media during Thursday’s session of the programme.
“So, currently on Tuesdays, the programme is catering to the Ellerslie School where it all started; on Wednesdays, it’s the Frederick Smith School; on Thursdays, it’s the St Michael and the Coleridge and Parry schools; and on Fridays, we go to Princess Margaret and St George Secondary.”
Griffith-Carrington said the students worked on a written assignment in December last year, in which they had to express their feelings and thoughts about how COVID-19 had impacted them and their education.
“It is our intention to send it to the Ministry of Education so that they too will value and appreciate the voices of our children. We are teaching our children to have a voice. So often, we as adults think we need to speak for our children. All children have a voice and a strong voice, because they are the generation of the future,” the programme facilitator said.
Stressing that young people needed life skills in addition to their academic ability when seeking gainful employment, Griffith-Carrington said participants were given guidance on effective communication, which she said is a weak point for many students.
“We have found that some students really need to do something with their vocabulary. If you ask them how they are, you will hear, ‘I’m fine’. That is not enough. We want effective communication, so that they are not only preparing themselves with the right attitude – because a lot of our students don’t have self-confidence – but now we are preparing them to communicate.
“First they learn about communication, the barriers to communication, then we go into telephone etiquette, email etiquette, and under this we also do social media,” she explained.
Over the semester, students were also taught the importance of learning conflict resolution. (SB)