Wednesday 12 December, 2018

Government Launches After School Programme

In his address on Universal Children’s Day, Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet reminded of Government’s plans to develop After School and Coaching Programmes in order to ensure our children can learn and grow up in a safe environment.

That promise was delivered on Tuesday October 2nd as the Government of Saint Lucia in collaboration with The National Lotteries Authority (NLA) launched the after school programme designed to engage students from select schools in organized activities at various locations on island. The launch was held at the Office of the Prime Minister, where representatives of NLA and the government shared details about the initiative.

The NLA backed after school programme materialized after the government of Saint Lucia expressed interest in developing the programme as a means of enhancing sports development and reducing the risk to vulnerable students in the hours after school dismissal. The programmes will get underway at centers in targeted locations between the hours of 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

According to an NLA representative, the Authority came on board with the programme as it was seen as one which was sustainable, which would benefit the nation’s most valuable resource, the youth.

In March 2018, the NLA invited representatives from 19 local government, NGO, sporting, educational, and other relevant agencies to discuss the realization of the programme. The proposed structure was unveiled, as well as other encompassing elements. An executive committee was later appointed to finalize all aspects of the programme and manage the programme on behalf of NLA. After a series of meetings, the imitative has been tweaked and enhanced in numerous ways, which will be demonstrated in Phase 2 of the after school programme.

At Tuesday’s engagement officials discussed the main objectives of the programme which include; developing sporting talent, providing academic support, modifying behavior through sports and life skills training, and reducing the vulnerability of participants.

Activities will include football and track and field, life skills training, homework assistance, and other social aspects such as tours. Students will also be provided with daily meals. As it relates to the selection of students for the programme, officials said that was left up to school administration, with registration forms sent to parents to confirm their willingness for the participation of their child. Though select schools were targeted for participation in the programme, the first phase of the pilot project found that siblings attending different schools could also be incorporated for the sake of convenience.

As the programme transitioned into Phase 2, questions arose regarding what would happen at the culmination of that stage of the pilot programme. Representatives noted that following the submission of all reports and the completion of appraisals, the Executive Committee will review the programme and make recommendations to the NLA. The programme will continue in 2019, with room for expansion, particularly in terms of the inclusion of more age groups (secondary and tertiary) as well as early childhood. Additional sporting options are also being considered. With government’s intention to upgrade sporting facilities on island, the after school programme stands to benefit tremendously, with the possibility of sports such as swimming, basketball, and netball being incorporated.

Honourable Edmund Estephane, Minister of Youth Development and Sports, stamped his seal of approval on the programme that is expected to benefit the more vulnerable youth in society in a productive and wholesome manner.

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