EduFocal Excellence Awards

Friday, July 28, 2017

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Who said learning can't be fun? Online learning platform EduFocal's fifth annual Excellence Awards certainly was! The examination preparation platform awarded its top 20 achieving students this past Wednesday at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. Cash prizes and certificates were handed out to the applause of proud parents and educators. EduFocal is an innovative online platform that combines study with play by using games to help students practise for GSAT and CSEC examinations. The programme is the brainchild of 26-year-old entrepreneur Gordon Swaby.

Hard work pays! Campion College's Jhanel Lalor's excellent scores at the CSEC level earned her a $50,000 cash prize courtesy of the British Caribbean Insurance Company. For the top score at the GSAT level was Shantavia Chin, who will be attending Wolmer's High School, and who also received a cheque for $50,000. For Chin, who has an eye condition that makes it difficult for her to see, EduFocal increased the font size so that she was able to use the programme. The rest is history (and mathematics, and English and science..)

The cash prizes were a significant increase from the $30,000 offered last year. The top two scorers also received tablets from Courts Optical, as well as backpacks from Bresheh Enterprises that are sure to come in handy for their future academic endeavours. Rainforest Seafoods was also on hand to support the programme from which they sponsor 50 students a year.

Swaby started EduFocal when he was only 21 years old, along with Paul Allen, as a company determined to revolutionise the way students study and prepare for their exams. Five years later, the company continues to grow into a more established and recognised institution locally, regionally and internationally. The company is focused on using technology to enrich the learning experience outside of the classroom as well as to help ideate and innovate the forward march of education and technology. Since 2012, the company has had over 11,000 users, 6 million online hits, 9 million questions answered and 450,000 tests taken on its online platform. Some saw the Internet as a distraction to students, but the company harnessed it as the future for learning. “We're not just a platform; we're a community,” Swaby shared. He announced plans to take the company public within a year, and is looking at adapting it to international markets starting in West Africa. At present the programme costs $1,500 per month.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Floyd Green gave his remarks on the programme. “This is what happens when you bring innovation to education,” he stated. “We have incredible potential in Jamaica and it all starts at home.” Guest speaker, principal Dr Margaret Bailey hailed the success of the programme in her school Rollington Town Primary. “We have to be pulling them away from learning to go and eat lunch!” she said.

The afternoon was interspersed with performances by saxophonist Fred Robertson as well as the adorable Rollington Town Primary School students, who may well be the next recipients of the EduFocal Excellence Awards.

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