A learning revolution impacting hundreds of primary school pupils is quietly taking place across Trinidad and Tobago through a partnership between energy company BP Trinidad and Tobago and the Arrow Foundation.
According to a release, the programme, which involves remedial work in reading and spelling administered by Arrow, was launched in September, 2012.
So far, more than 180 children in six primary schools from north and south-east Trinidad and Tobago have successfully completed the training. The schools are Carenage Boys’ Government, Carenage Girls’ Government, Ortoire RC, Guayaguayare RC, Speyside Anglican and Charlotteville Methodist.
The difference, evident in the lives of the students, is reflected in the words of ten-year-old Darren Green, of Carenage Boys’ Government. “I am doing better in school now and for the first time I am enjoying reading,” Green said in the release.
“I am really happy that I did the computer training and my parents and teachers are proud that I am doing better in school.
“Now I feel like I can do anything I want because I’m not scared anymore to learn new things. I feel better about myself and I want to help others learn, too.”
Driven by the vision and support of bpTT, the programme was taken to another level with training for Arrow tutors provided to three teachers in each of the six primary schools.
Ronda Francis, corporate responsibility manager, bpTT, paid a visit last Tuesday to the Carenage schools to get feedback from the students and teachers involved in the training.
“Of all the areas that we invest in nationally, perhaps none is more important than education,” Francis said.
“Although we target all levels and all ages, the youngest are most critical. The future rests in their hands and minds, and this initiative is aimed at ensuring that they get the tools they need to succeed.
“By training the teachers in the Arrow method, we are expanding the reach to every student that needs the extra help in reading and spelling. Seeing the confidence and improvement in the children makes every effort worthwhile as we continue to inspire young minds and transform the future.”
Yelitza Noel, Infant One teacher at Carenage Girls’ Government Primary, explained what the programme means to her: “This training is having such a positive impact on my life as well as that of the students.
“As a teacher, I am always looking for new strategies to enhance my ability to help children learn and that’s why I jumped at this chance presented by bpTT and the Arrow Foundation.
“This brain-based technique with use of self-voice really empowers the young ones to improve themselves. With this training, I really feel energised to help students improve and achieve their full potential.”
Arrow stands for Aural Read Respond Oral Write and the technique was first developed in 1975 in the United Kingdom by Dr Colin Lane. It incorporates various programmes covering reading, spelling, dictation, speech and listening skills, which produce significant results in children and adults who have learning difficulties.
The computer-based learning applies use of the self-voice—a recording of the learner’s own voice while reading—which forms the basis of the multi-sensory learning approach.
The local Arrow Foundation is a non-profit organisation led by director, Christopher Bonterre.
He said: “This programme is working wonders and the improvements in the students are dramatic. Based on our pre- and post-assessments, students have shown as much as a two-year improvement in terms of their reading and spelling ages.
“Through bpTT’s support, we were able to train the teachers at each school to become UK-certified Arrow tutors.
The overall training of the teachers, in addition to the software installed in each school, will make a huge difference to the academic progress of hundreds of students over the years.”
The selected teachers at the six schools are currently completing the vocational part of their training where they will apply their technical knowledge of the Arrow method in evaluated sessions with small groups of students.
Upon completion of their training, bpTT will be hosting graduation ceremonies in May for all the pupils and teachers involved in this highly successful first stage of the programme.