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EduFocal awards top users

Saturday, July 25, 2015

SOCIAL learning website EduFocal on Wednesday awarded Danielle Lindo and Tyrese Bryan with $30,000 each for being the top users of its Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) programmes, respectively.

Lindo and Bryan were among 10 students and educators who were recognised for using the online platform over the course of the past year. The award ceremony, which was held at the Pegasus, marked three years since the project's inception.

EduFocal allows users to access content from the GSAT and CSEC curricula, and enhances the learning experience through games, quizzes and other engaging activities. Students also become members of a virtual community in which they can compete, get help, and exchange ideas.

Conceptualiser and CEO of EduFocal Gordon Swaby calls it the 'gamification' of education.

"EduFocal provides easy access to educational content wherever you are," said Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, opposition spokesperson on education and y outh, who was the guest speaker for the event. "Easy access to materials and methods beyond those used by the teachers in a particular school... essentially the opening of new educational worlds for young people, regardless of where they are enrolled."

She urged parents and educators who were present at the ceremony, held at the Jamaica Pegasus, to use the advancement of technology and the Internet to their advantage.

"It is a fact," she said, "that the way our generation learnt is different from the way our children learn today. As societies evolve, so must their educational frameworks. It is a part of development. We certainly have to find new ways to meet our learners where they are. Education has to be a collaborative effort between all interests: parents, administrators, teachers, public and private sectors, legislators and other groups within the society."

Minister of state in the ministry of science, technology, energy and mining Julian Robinson, expressed gratitude to the programme in his address.

"We are surrounded by a society of many bad things," he said. "It is good to have a demonstration of entrepreneurship; of someone who has come up with a solution to a problem, and has actually built a business out of it. That solution has had a very positive impact on the lives of so many students and parents."

"We have a preponderance of talent in Jamaica, and what we try to do as a Government is to provide a platform for facilitating that," the minister added.

Swaby explained that the Jamaica Observer's partnership has helped to broaden Edufocal's reach.

"We have about 5,000 users currently, and each year we host the award ceremony to say thank you and congratulations to the students who have done well. Our partnership with the Jamaica Observer has made the portal a lot more accessible to a number of students because they provide a code each week in the Sunday Observer that allows students free access to the portal for that week," he said.

The young entrpreneur added: "The next step for EduFocal is to somehow allow Internet access to be more available in Jamaica, and therefore making EduFocal more accessible to more students."

The top GSAT users were: Danielle Lindo, Michelle Allen, Eniola Johnson, Abigail Denton, Thaia Malcolm, Soyini Slater, Tonya-Lee Webster, Corey Barrett, Chrisania Hunter, and Nathan Williamson.

The top CSEC users, meanwhile, were: Tyrese Bryan, Trishauna Anderson, teacher Pearl Harrison, David Thomas, Tiana Darren, Raheem Forsythe, Kiara Daley, Charmalee Blackwood, Shantol Barton, Seana Irving.