Oxford Remedial School -Giving Children a Second Chance
When 12 year old Dexter began classes at the Oxford Remedial School five years ago he was unable to read. Although he had completed primary school and had been placed in a high school, his mother recognised that he had serious learning problems and sought help for him.
“I tried to get him into a special programme at Mico Practising School but it was full. Then I was referred to some classes at Red Hills but those were too expensive for me. It was then I heard about the NISC (National Initiative for Street Children) and this school and we applied and got through and I sent him here,” Dexter’s mother, Eugenie Pinnock explains.
The National Initiative for Street Children is supported by UNICEF Jamaica and provides care and support services for street children and other at risk children from Kingston and St. Andrew, offering classes in music, computer, craft as well as academics. The Oxford Remedial School, which began operating in 2000, is a part of the NISC’s programme which caters to the special needs of children who have not been able to succeed in the mainstream education system. At present about 20 children are enrolled in the programme.
“Some children in the programme were not doing well in the school system. Many actually went to school but did not attend classes,” Ms. Una Williams of the NISC points out.
Ms. Williams says that during the three years he spent at the Oxford Remedial School, Dexter made considerable progress and was a model student.
“When he came to us he did not know the alphabet. When we did the assessment after he came to us he was performing about five years below his grade level. When he left us he was reading at a grade three level and doing math at grade five level. He left us to go to further training at the YMCA’s programme,” she explains.
“Dexter is a very intelligent boy. He has a memory that is better than any child I have ever seen. He also sings well, speaks well and he relates well to others. Since he went to the YMCA they have also been reporting the same thing,” Ms. Williams adds.
Dexter himself says the school has helped him a lot: “It wasn’t much different from primary school. I started with simple words and basic maths but it helped me in a way so that I could understand more things. I could do maths better and I could catch up on my reading. The good thing about this school is that the teachers are nice and very helpful. It is a good opportunity to catch up with things you cannot manage because the teachers give more specialised attention and make sure you do better in the work you are trying to do.”
Dexter’s mother was so impressed with his progress that she began sending his younger sister, 14 year old Chantal, to the school also.
“She has really picked up,” Ms. Pinnock notes. “She can read now. Any child who comes to this school and cannot learn does not want to learn. They really try a lot with them here. The teachers also help in other ways – they invite them to events and to church and even give the children clothes and shoes if they do not have them. I would really like to see more schools like