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Teacher opts for island ‘summer school’

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Andrew Campbell posed last month at Grand Anse beach, a five-minute walk from his housing in Grenada. Campbell, a teacher at Major Ballachey School, was part of a group that worked with Grenadian teachers to share resources.
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As soon as Major Ballachey teacher Andrew Campbell put away his books and school supplies at the end of June, he took them up again in a world almost 4,000 kilometres away.

Campbell was one of about 60 Canadian teachers selected for Project Overseas and one of five sent to the Caribbean island of Grenada where he and his colleagues participated in professional learning workshops with Grenadian teachers.

“We learned very quickly that things there are very different,” said Campbell.

“We had teachers in the program who had been high school students in June and are going to be teaching this year in September because you don’t have to have a degree to be a teacher in Grenada.”

That leaves both fresh and seasoned teachers hungry for education and resources on the beautiful island.

“The time they spent with us is the only professional development time they have. Those who attend the program are clear that teachers talk about it for years to come.”

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation has been running Project Overseas for decades in partnership with other teacher federations and those in the host countries.

Campbell was off to Ottawa at the beginning of July to take part in training with about 60 other teachers who were to be scattered across the globe during the month, helping to improve public education in developing countries.

Some of the topics covered range from reading and math to gender equity and developing leaders in and out of the classroom.

“I’ve always been really passionate about public education and I love to travel,” said Campbell. “I spent some time teaching in Kuwait but came back home because of young kids. Now that my kids are semi-launched, it provided me the opportunity to go back out again.”

Campbell applied for the highly competitive program last year but didn’t make it. He was finally selected this year.

While the difference between a Canadian and a Grenadian classroom may be vast, Campbell said his team of five and the 120 local teachers immediately bonded over similarities.

“My first day in a class with 20 other teachers from Grenada, no one knowing each other or talking much and then one asked ‘In Ontario, what’s your policy about homework?’ and suddenly, organically, we were in a big discussion about whether kids should do homework and how much homework. The fact we were from different countries melted away.

“We were just teachers and that felt huge to me professionally. It was a realization there’s much more that we have in common than our differences.”

Campbell also found almost everyone he spoke to was a Toronto Raptors fan and most have relatives living in Canada.

“It made me think of Major Ballachey where we have children who are Syrian refugees and how problems from thousands of miles away come into our schools very quickly. The students in Grenada today could be in my classroom tomorrow.”

During off hours, Campbell couldn’t get enough of the nearby Grand Anse beach, a pristine yet busy place to walk, swim, look at starfish and “meet the incredibly friendly people of Grenada.”

Once his responsibilities to Project Overseas were done, Campbell capped off his visit with a boat trip inspired by a former student: he travelled along the Grenadines to St. Vincent at the other end of the chain of islands.

“It was a special moment for me.”

Campbell returned to Canada ready to teach both co-teachers and students his most important lesson – the position of privilege Canadians hold.

“The physical resources we have access to are far above what they have. I came back with hundreds of pictures and want to share with my students about a place where classrooms have a concrete floor and no real blackboards or projectors. We need to appreciate what we have because we’re incredibly rich.”

SGamble@postmedia.com

@EXPSGamble

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Caribbean & World

Lotto and GTAWU reach agreement 

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • National Lotteries Authority workers resumed work on Thursday, 21 November
  • GTAWU secured salary adjustments for 2017–2019
  • NLA job analysis and evaluation should be completed by July 2020

All outstanding matters regarding the interest of workers at the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) have been resolved. Workers resumed work as normal on Thursday, 21 November.

From 12 November, employees at the NLA/Lotto were engaged in low-level protest action which was later heightened after they did not receive a favourable response from the Board of Directors led by its Chairman, Devon Charles.

The Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) demanded that workers be paid salary increases due since 2017; the employment status of 3 employees be regularised, and the appointment of Jodie Alexander who has been acting in a supervisory position for 2 years and 5 months, be confirmed.

The union managed to secure salary adjustments of 3.75% for 2017; 2.5% for 2018 and 3.25% for 2019 which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2019. In addition, the adjustment for the 3 employees should be completed by 2 December.

Thereafter the board of the NLA will be doing a job analysis and evaluation which should be completed by July 2020, after which the union will commence new negotiations with NLA for 2020 and going forward.

“We want to commend the workers at Lotto for the decisive way in which they addressed this matter. We look forward to a harmonious relationship with Lotto as the workers continue to produce,” said President General of GTAWU, André Lewis.

Prior to the meeting with the Labour Commissioner on Tuesday and Wednesday, workers from all of the NLA’s sub-offices islandwide were seen protesting outside NLA Head Office on the Carenage accompanied by two senior GTAWU members.

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Grenada Tourism Authority hosts secondary school ‘Career Series’

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The Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) has successfully completed its ‘Career Series’ in 20 secondary schools across the tri-island state.

The GTA team shared with over 500 students in forms three and four, the many career opportunities that the industry has to offer and the important role tourism plays in the economy and their lives.

Presently, the industry employs over 10,000 people and contributes almost a quarter to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through direct and indirect sources. The GTA also partnered with its stakeholders who joined in to share with the students what they do to support the industry. Stakeholders included Tri-Island Chocolate, the Grenada Airports Authority (Air Traffic Control and Meteorological Office), Budget Marine Grenada, Mt Cinnamon Beach Resort, Edwin Frank (Tour Guide) and St James Travel and Tours. The students were keen and asked questions about how they could get into the different career fields.

The Career Series included presentations, videos and role-play to encourage the students to start thinking about a career in tourism such as becoming a tour guide capable of speaking different languages, tour operator, hotel manager, divemaster, chef, marketer, content creator, mixologist among others. One of the roleplays in the presentation was the use of foreign currency in showing how the tourist dollar could circulate and trickle down from a visitor to a restaurant, to a farmer, supermarket worker and then finally to a student.

CEO of the GTA, Patricia Maher joined the team at Westerhall Secondary School to inspire and encourage the students. She told the students, “You may see something unique within your community that you think can become a tourism experience. Remember everyday activities that you enjoy are often times what excites the visitor about the destination. As future contributors to the tourism industry, I encourage you to pursue these ideas, turn them into businesses and cooperatives, to the benefit of your community and country.”

Forming a major part of the Career Series was a discussion on the environment. The GTA debuted a video featuring its tourism mascot ‘Nutasha’ and the ‘Litterbug’ character highlighting the consequences of littering on the environment and tourism. Product Development and Research Manager at the GTA Kirl Hoschtialek said, “We are Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean and we encourage you to become tourism ambassadors by keeping our islands clean.”

The Career Series was a major activity of Tourism Awareness Month being commemorated under the theme “Promoting Careers and Sustainable Livelihoods in Tourism.”

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Grenada to ban sodas and sweet snacks at schools

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by Linda Straker

  • Sale of carbonated beverages at schools to be banned from 1 January 2020
  • Student health assessments show almost 20% surveyed were obese or overweight
  • Parents and vendors on school compounds must comply with new policy

Education Minister Emmalin Pierre has announced that as of 1 January 2020, government will be banning the sale of carbonated beverages and other snacks on the compounds of all public and private schools in Grenada.

Sharing details of health assessments among students which were conducted between 2010 and 2016, Pierre who was the time contributing to the 2020 budget debate said that almost 20% of the students surveyed were obese or overweight.

“Between 2010 and 2016 study shows 17% of the secondary school population between 12 to 16 years are overweight and obese while 2% to 6% of children 0 months to 5 years are overweight and obese,” she told the House.

“Mr Speaker, I don’t need to explain further. In addition to obesity and all of the other chronic illnesses that our children are coming down with why we need to take some very strong action in 2020, and so from 1 January 2020 we will move to fully implement Grenada’s school nutrition policy,” she said. “We will move to ban the sale of certain products in schools including sodas and sweet snacks that our children are abusing,” Pierre announced as members expressed approval by knocking tables.

Parents will also be prohibited from placing the banned snacks and drinks in lunch bags.

As part of the nutrition policy, vendors on school compounds will have to comply with the new policy as a permit will now be issued to them to ensure that they are aware of the requirements. “That permit will basically be saying that you have agreed within the policy of the nutrition of our students,” the Education Minister told the house.

The nutrition policy will also bring changes to the school feeding programme. More than 7,000 children receive a hot meal daily through that programme which costs the government EC$3.1 million.

Pierre said that the school feeding programme had a thorough assessment and it was decided that changes will be made to ensure that students receive nutritious meals. There are schools that sometimes serve the children processed foods that have been scientifically classified as unhealthy.

“We will not change overnight, but I am very optimistic that we will get there,” Pierre said.

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