Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw (second from left), discussing the National Give Back Programme with (from left) Interim President of the Students’ Guild at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, Christian Trotman; Acting Principal, Ramona Archer-Bradshaw; and Coordinator of the Programme at the College, Gerry Haynes, today. (S. Medford/BGIS)

Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw, is encouraging non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and those that are community-based, to take advantage of the opportunities presented through the National Give Back Programme.

She made the appeal as she addressed the launch of the initiative at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, Pine Hill, St. Michael.

To date, close to 150 such entities have registered with the programme, which is already in place at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus and the Barbados Community College.

In her address, Minister Bradshaw said the response to the Give Back Programme has been positive, especially from students.  However, she indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted the capacity of participating entities. 

“We’re having to make changes in terms of numbers, and therefore it’s had a significant impact on the number of the entities that would otherwise have been able to create large opportunities for a wider cross section of our people,” she said.

The Education Minister noted that nonetheless, there were some positives coming out of the pandemic, as people were thinking outside of the box.

 “There’s still room for more, because our focus has been not just on the things relating to health and the social welfare of our people. But we are asking persons to come forward to create organisations, and certainly come to the fore to be able to give people the opportunity to serve in as many different capacities during the volunteer period,” the Education Minister stated.

It was against this background that she encouraged entities to be creative in their approach to engaging students, while suggesting that students could use their initiative and create their own organisations.

“Institutions have to see themselves as leading the charge of giving back.  It’s not just simply about having students sign up for other entities…. The students who are here (at Erdiston Teachers’ Training College), if they want to create an entity that then can be registered, they can then work with partners to be able to develop programmes going forward.

“Those are things that are possible and will perhaps require wider engagement with the Ministry of Education…but we’re very receptive to new ideas,” the Education Minister noted, emphasising that the aim was to encourage persons to adopt a more community-centred mindset.

To date, 145 students at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College have registered with the Give Back Programme.

And that institution’s Acting Principal, Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, encouraged participants to view it as an opportunity to grow and learn more about the communities they will serve; obtain valuable social and job skills, among other things.

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