(JAMAICA) Rural schools boosting performance with ICT
Published: Wednesday | June 30, 2010 0 Comments and 0 Reactions
Camille Hutchinson, a business educator at the Mile Gully High School in Manchester, assists a student as she uses the AutoSkills software. The software assists struggling students to develop reading skills. - Contributed Photos
Sheldon Clayton, visual arts teacher at the Mile Gully High School in Manchester, enters data using the Complete SMS. The Complete SMS is a school management software which assists school administrators to analyse data on students. The data can be used to develop timely and effective intervention programmes to meet student needs.
STUDENTS ATTENDING two non-traditional high schools in rural Jamaica are experiencing a performance boost through the adoption of information communication technologies (ICT).
The schools, Mile Gully and McGrath High, which are parti-cipants in the Mutual Building Societies Foundation's (MBSF) Centres of Excellence programme, have been benefiting from the increased use of computer software.
"The software allows teachers and administrators to assess the literacy and numeracy levels of the pupils and provides a fully computerised plan of action for the students. The teachers are able to get data on the students' performance in real time and can easily ascertain their areas of weakness," Llewelyn Bailey, manager of the MBSF Centres of Excellence programme, and assistant general manager at Jamaica National, said.
Improved reading skill
Roxann Gayle, a 13-year-old grade-seven student at the Mile Gully High School in Manchester, is one of the students benefiting from the computer software, which the schools received under the programme. The software she is using is called AutoSkills, and it has been helping her to develop her reading abilities.
"It's fun!" Roxann exclaimed.
"I am able to learn because it pronounces the beginning and ending of the words," the shy young lady explained.
Roxann has moved up one reading level since she started using the software last term.
"I was reading very poorly, but I am improving and my mother is proud," she said.
"The software is user friendly and it gets the students excited about reading and about computer literacy," Loytoya Henry, the reading specialist at Mile Gully High, said. In reference to other students who entered the school with only basic reading skills, Henry noted that within one term some students moved up by two levels, after using the software.
"Some students were not able to recognise basic words when reading, but are doing much better because the software helps them to recognise the sound of the words while reading," she explained, noting that the software, which the school received just under a year ago, makes teaching more practical.
The use of ICT to improve students' educational outcome is a major strategy of the Centres of Excellence programme. In fact, it is the main strategy for improving monitoring in the schools.
Aiding pupils and teachers
According to Bailey, both Mile Gully and McGrath are benefiting from a school management soft-ware, called the Complete SMS, which allows them to manage planning for teaching and adminis-trative duties more effectively.
Ulit Brackett, principal of Mile Gully High School, points out that the software produces a range of data that amass trends to determine the progress of students and teachers alike.
Dr Cynthia Anderson, principal of the McGrath High School, also attests to the improvement in efficiency, which the new software promotes, pointing out: "This allows both administrators and teachers to plan the academic programme, so they can meet the needs of their students. They no longer have to walk around with 200 documents and are also producing timely and more accurate reports."