Through joint action of the Jamaican Embassy in Washington DC and Community Scholar Incorporation, a nonprofit based in the United States designed to improve the test scores of US students, Jamaican teachers are being recruited to tutor these students online. According to Robert St. Cyr, the executive director of Community Scholar, creating a community around every student will encourage a culture of learning in which students can develop their academic skills. The initiative’s target market comprises students from second through eighth grade. Math and English are its chief topics now, but there are plans to add other subjects like geography, science, history, and music in the new school year. He added that the thinking on which the program is based addresses the achievement gap identified between black and white students, which is a persistent issue in the US. The second-through-eighth grade levels were selected since academic proficiency starts to diverge in elementary school. A combination of volunteer and paid staff members provides individual and small group tutoring, and students are grouped according to their proficiency levels as defined by teachers in their own schools.
The organization is recruiting teachers from Jamaica in a plan meant to aid communities both in the US and on the island. Community Scholar requested assistance from Audrey Marks, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the US, in finding suitable Jamaican teachers to participate in the program. Marks said her agency supports the initiative as a model of collaboration that offers a perfect fit for the current virtual lifestyle and creates a socio-economic opportunity for the education sector that uses technology and the acknowledged expertise of teachers in Jamaica. As the teachers interact with students of different backgrounds, they will be able to bring their experiences back to their Jamaican classrooms and add to their academic experience., St. Cyr stated.
He went on to note that the program offers a unique opportunity for both students and teachers, and it addresses critical issues in modern education that often leave some students behind, and importantly, those parents who decide to keep their children out of school during the 2020-2021 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic can be assured that the students will still get a solid education through individualized instruction that public and private schools cannot provide.