Government launches after school program
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
by GIS
THE PROGRAM AIMS TO IMPROVE CHILDREN’S ACADEMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT.

The recently launched afterschool program is an initiative of the Government of Saint Lucia and will be implemented by the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports through the National Lotteries Authority.

According to government officials, the afterschool program seeks to fill the critical time period between 3 to 6 p.m., when children are out of school but parents may still be at work. The purpose is to ensure that children are engaged in meaningful activities that positively impact their academic performance, attitudes, and behaviours.

Minister for Youth Development and Sports, Hon. Edmund Estephane, indicated that the pilot program was implemented in August 2018, and the second phase of the project is to begin during the first week of October.

“We are hoping that within the shortest possible time period the program will develop and envelop the whole island. This is our goal. Right now we will implement the program at about 10 schools and maybe very soon, we will be able to do this island wide. I am overjoyed to say that the program will also see some economic benefits trickle down to the communities. We will be employing around 40 coaches and lifestyle facilitators, 10 caterers, janitors and so on.”

Chair of the Executive Committee of the Afterschool Program, Sabuttus Hunte, said the need for additional support within the communities is undeniable. Hunte explained that after school programs hold great potential to fill gaps within communities while assisting with the development of children. Some of the benefits to be gained from the program by its participants are academic and sporting gains, increased interest in learning and the provision of supporting mentors to keep children healthy and active through exercise and healthy foods.

“We recognize the need to develop well rounded individuals and therefore emphasis was placed on ensuring the provision of quality instruction and supervision in a structured environment.

“A management committee consisting of a program manager, two zonal coordinators, a facility supervisor and the clinical supervisor was put in place to directly oversee the program and to ensure its integrity. Thirty coaches and 10 life skill facilitators were also employed. All staff were put through a rigorous interview process to ensure that only the best professionals available will be interacting with students. Very important because it doesn’t matter what is done at the executive level, if on the ground the quality of instruction is not being delivered by the coaches and the facilitators this will all be for nothing.”

The National Lotteries Authority Board Chair thanked all stakeholders for their support and interest in the program which will target children as low as age seven.

“The intervention is really intended to build and to mold by first introducing the child to sports and physical activity so as to expose them to the psychological, social and health benefits of playing sports; secondly by supporting the child’s academic development by providing homework assistance and monitoring; and thirdly by identifying indifferent and early deviant behavior in participants and channeling such wards to the appropriate resources for corrective and remedial action.”

The afterschool program was officially launched on October 2.