Edufocal awards top GSAT, CSEC students

BY GORGETTE BECKFORD Career & Education writer

Sunday, July 20, 2014

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EDUFOCAL has awarded nine students for performance in the recent Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

Shamique Francis (last year's top GSAT performer), David Ramdeen, and Shantol Barton (top performer) were awarded for excellent work in CSEC, while Danielle Lindo, Thaia Malcom, Kariem Lloyd, Courtney Seivwright, Matthew Irving, and Tyrese Bryan (top performer) were awarded for their work in the GSAT. In addition to the plaques and gift baskets, the top performer from each level was given $30,000.

Edufocal, an interactive, user-friendly online learning environment which employs gamification to engage primary and secondary students, is the brainchild of CEO Gordon Swaby. Its incentivised model promotes learning in a competitive but relaxed community.

At the awards ceremony held at Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Swaby announced an upcoming SAT partnership, as well as an expansion to include other Caribbean countries. The current platform is concentrated on GSAT and CSEC.

This year marks the second staging of the awards.

Guest speaker Professor Errol Morrison implored the young awardees to open up their thinking and to not limit themselves.

"A thought is faster than the speed of light... whatever the mind can conceive, the revolving technology can achieve," Morrison said.

In the same vein he sought to emphasise the importance of being logical by sharing an anecdote: If there are three birds in a tree and you shoo one, how many would remain? Mathematically, two. But birds are easily frightened so logic dictates that all three would fly away.

The professor, who is currently the director general of the National Commission on Science and Technology, highlighted the significance of using the cellphone as a tool for education.

Morrison said Jamaica boasts a 150 per cent cellphone penetration and could easily capitalise on the 'massification of education' system being used in Bangladesh. This, he stated, involved teaching by broadcasting messages to the instruments of children who are unable to physically attend school.

"When Gordon [Swaby] invited me to speak and I learned what gamification was, I said this is up my street," he said, urging Swaby to expand Edufocal.

"You can go lower because three-year-olds and four-year-olds are very astute. You can also expand beyond the CSEC level."

GSAT awardees

Tyrese Bryan

Danielle Lindo

Thaia Malcom

Kariem Lloyd

Courtney Seivwright(collected by sister Nickayah Seivwright)

Matthew Irving

CSEC awardees

Shantol Barton

Shamique Francis

David Ramdeen (collected by father Christopher Ramdeen)

'Invest in the children...'

PROFESSOR Errol Morrison has encouraged the young Edufocal awardees to work hard, be observant and persistent.

"You have an idea; stick to it," Morrison urged.

However, he implored the youth not to hesitate to change course if the current one becomes unsuitable, and to stay in school and learn as much as they could.

He told the awardees to research Albert Einstein for motivation: "At age three he [Einstein] couldn't talk; at age seven he couldn't read... by age seven you're reading your comics," Morrison said. He also ushered them to to view what he describes as a mind-blowing experience -- a hovering car invented by Chinese students.

He asked parents, members of parliament and business people to encourage the dream and help the youth to stay in school by investing in them.

Morrison said investing in a child is a win-win situation since an actual return is guaranteed and earning power is dependent on the level of education an individual achieves.

"If your child leaves school in grade six, I can guarantee, unless he or she is a genius, they will become hewers of wood and drawers of water," Morrison said.

"There is no country that is educated that is poor, and neither is there any poor country that is educated."

The professor detailed the benefits of businesses providing financial support to young people. He suggested that bursaries and scholarships be awarded in exchange for internships. Upon completion of studies, it would be easier for the students to integrate into and improve the company based on familiarity.

"Young people must be encouraged and supported to stay in school," he stressed.




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