By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
A GROUP of community leaders and volunteers last week opened a temporary community school aimed at continuing the education of the students of all ages, while government schools remain closed due to the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.
In an interview with The Tribune, community activist Ranard Henfield and founder of the Our Carmichael Group, said he woke up last Wednesday and realised that children had been out of school, not learning, for nearly two weeks. He said while he understood the challenges the Ministry of Education was facing in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, he thought “enough was enough” and the children needed to be educated.
Within one hour of posting a plea for help on social media, Mr Henfield said he received donations for school supplies, tents, food and water and had several qualified teachers volunteer their time.
Saint Ambrose Anglican Church on Carmichael Road and Adelaide Primary School volunteered their facilities to be used as school campuses. Despite still being without electricity or water, Mr Henfield said Adelaide School agreed to let the students use its yard, which is shaded by large trees.
He said once the idea went viral on Facebook, the donations from local businesses as well as private citizens began pouring in.
The schools, which cater to children of all ages, opened on Thursday, October 20, with nearly 100 students between the ages of 4 and 16.
“The set up is like the all age schools in the Family Islands,” he said. “I was overwhelmed with the support we got. Within the hour we had donations from Kentucky Fried Chicken, Outback Steakhouse, Rotary, teachers donated their time, we had tents and persons donating money.
“We just wanted to be able to help the kids. We are packed with kids at both locations - the turn out was great. I had an opportunity to sit down and speak with the kids and what I realised was maybe seven out of every 10 of the kids were behind in school. There were 9th graders who have never done algebra and could not do simple math. Grammar is a problem for some.
“This is not a Ministry of Education problem, this is a parenting problem and it is time for all of us to work together. This hurricane has exposed so many issues. For Our Carmichael, educating and empowering persons is our mission. The hurricane cannot stop our kids from learning. So we will be here until school opens, if they keep moving the date, we will be here until whenever.”
If anyone wants to assist, Mr Henfield said at this moment there is not a need for supplies, however they can always use extra volunteers.
Public schools throughout New Providence, Grand Bahama and North Andros are expected to reopen Tuesday.