by Curlan Campbell
- BREDGE programme created by volunteer tutors providing free virtual classes for underprivileged youths
- Programme provides virtual classes via Zoom
- Programme offers Mathematics, English A, Principles of Business, Office Administration, Social Studies and Public Speaking
21-year-old Ali-Ann Grant from Pearls, St Andrew dreams of one day becoming an accountant. Grant has admitted that peer pressure during her formative years while attending secondary school hindered her from attaining the requisite CXC subjects needed to fulfil her career goals.
But recently, hopes of advancing her career were renewed after she discovered an initiative called BREDGE (Bridging Rediscovering Empowering Development in Grenadian Education Advancement). This programme was created by volunteer tutors offering their time to provide free virtual classes for underprivileged youths wishing to pursue higher education, but who are hindered from doing because of not having the requisite CXC subjects.
Grant is taking full advantage of this opportunity and has chosen subjects areas like Principles of Business, Office Administration and English A through this programme.
Grant is currently employed with the government under the Imani programme and she believes this opportunity will open doors for her to improve her standard of living. “What do I hope to achieve? My expectations involve being able to learn how to identify problems, how to choose strategies to address these issues, and how to plan and execute the tactics needed to achieve these goals. By learning this, I can gain real-world experience of what it takes to drive my future plans forward.”
Leading the charge in providing virtual classes via Zoom is Grenadian author and advocate against child sexual abuse, Michelle Sabrena Alexander, who has joined forces with 3 other tutors — Nakita Wells-John, Xiomara Lewis, and Roland Abraham who holds a Bachelor’s in Business Management — to provide this service.
Alexander understands the importance of attaining a proper education. She holds a Bachelor’s in Business Management from SBCS Global Learning Institute, and a Bachelor’s of Sociology and Psychology from St George’s University (SGU). She is currently on her way to completing her Masters in Criminal Justice.
Currently, the programme offers 5 CXC subjects, namely: Mathematics, English A, Principles of Business, Office Administration, and Social Studies, with Public Speaking classes as a bonus.
“I’ve noticed for quite a while that our population needs an avenue for educational development and advancement. However, they seem to be financially drained, hence the reason BREDGE was formed. We’ve decided to it virtually for 2 reasons. One, it’s more convenient for the tutors and the students in the sense that they can conveniently log in wherever they are once they have internet access; and two, well, Covid-19 regulations,” Alexander said.
Educators willing to be part of this project are invited to come on board.
“Currently, we have 5 tutors most teaching multiple subjects and we are open to welcome anyone else on board who wants to join us for this very worthy cause. The more tutors we have on hand the more [people] we can accommodate. Initially, we wanted 20 [people] per class but with the overwhelming response, we’ve had (especially for Maths and English) classes are way bigger, hence the call for more volunteer tutors,” Alexander said.
Another major aspect of the project is to prepare students with the knowledge and assist in the payment of the fees to sit the CXC exams. However, this will require significant financial resources, therefore, the founders of the initiative hope that they can attract corporate sponsorship.
“The only criteria for taking the classes are willingness, commitment and internet access. We can be reached via our email [email protected] or via WhatsApp 422-4608. Foreseeable challenges would be the payment to sit the exams. While [people] express interest, most are unemployed or have little income, hence paying for the exams can be a problem for the majority. We believe that if the corporate community comes on board and helps ease the financial burden, jumping over this hurdle would be easier,” she said.
Although some students are presently receiving classes, the programme is officially expected to start on 17 August 2020, in preparation for those seeking to sit the exams in 2021.