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Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Senator Harry Husbands. (FP)

Over 400 Barbadians stand to benefit from an initiative introduced recently by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) during a launch at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa.

It is the Strengthening Second Chance Education, a three-year initiative conceptualised by CXC and sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The US$4.2 million project is expected to see some 225 participants – including prisoners and others who would have left school without vital certification – graduating to higher education programmes using the certification gained in the process and/or moving into paid employment or entrepreneurial ventures.

The CXC programme primarily targets ???at-risk’ youths between the ages of 16 and 30 across nine Caribbean territories namely Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago. And, it is expected to be offered in these countries by the start of the next school semester in September of this year.

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Senator Harry Husbands, welcomed the programme, saying: "The establishment of this project increases Barbados’ chances of achieving its objective to provide education for all people at all levels, from nursery to tertiary.

The realisation of such a goal is critical for a small state like Barbados whose greatest resource is its people. Therefore, its capacity building resides in its people – their education and their development."

While noting that it was for this reason Government had expanded its nursery education programmes, provided additional spaces at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and widened continuing education at Springer Memorial and the Frederick Smith schools, he said: "The second chance Education project will bolster Barbados’ attempts to meet the myriad educational needs of its citizens."

Commending the Council, the Parliamentary Secretary noted that CXC had been in the vanguard for change in the way students are assessed and certified by broadening its range of programmes and "making them more relevant for the realities of the Caribbean context".

Chief Executive Officer at CXC, Dr. Didacus Jules. (Photograph compliments the CXC)

Chief Executive Officer at CXC, Dr. Didacus Jules, said he was pleased with the response from local and regional second chance institutions (SCIs) as they "eagerly looked forward to helping vulnerable young people get on their feet again". "The national and regional SCIs with whom we interacted in the explorations leading to the programme design have been excited at the pathways that CXC’s involvement will provide. Access to the CVQs and to the CCSLC will provide a solid foundation of competencies to enable young people to move from wherever they are to wherever they dream to go," Dr. Jules added.

Meanwhile, United States Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Larry L. Palmer, said he was proud to be partnering with CXC in the educational effort and acknowledged that the initiative could make a difference in the lives of those youth in need, as well as provide the Caribbean business community with a more attractive pool of potential candidates for employment opportunities. He stressed: "We must all strive to support our youth who need the assistance to reach their true potential. We must provide encouragement and support not only because it is the right thing to do, but because any opportunity lost can weaken a person, a family, and a society as a whole."

He continued: "Second chance programs encourage learning and improvement in the quality of education and services available to vulnerable youth who are willing to ???try just one more time’."????????

The goal of CXC’s new programme is to build a sustainable infrastructure that will allow at risk groups of all interest and abilities to access programmes that may lead to the development of valuable life skills, training/retraining for the world of work, portable certification, and a continuing education platform for future development.

It will be offered at learning institutions such as the SJPP and the Barbados Vocational Training Board and will provide a tangible element in the form of CXC’s Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) Levels 1 and 2, and the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) to those who successfully complete their programmes.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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