This week marks the end of the UBAD Educational Foundation, UEF Summer Literacy Program. Some 30 students, ages 5 to 15, came to the KREMANDALA Compound in Belize City, to strengthen their reading, writing and communication skills in English. What was unique about the Program was the structure of the culturally African and Mayan-based curriculum, as well as the weekly focus on current events, culture, films, history, guest lectures and projects.
Parents came to realize that it is not just up to teachers to develop children’s reading capabilities or interest. A student-parent meeting was held Saturday, July 1st, at the Library of African and Indian Studies, where families took the opportunity to evaluate the program and in a sense, brag about the development of their children’s newfound love for reading.
With smiles on their faces, parents stood up and talked about their children, after a couple weeks at the library, picking up books and reading aloud in the house. Something very profound, being that these kids once deemed reading their arch-nemesis.
For the past six weeks, starting Monday June 28th, program participants discussed topics including, gardening and sustainable agriculture, useful art, cultural clothing, shelter, food, dance and music, as well as, environmental conservation. It was not the conventional summer program if you haven’t picked that up already.
The classroom structure of the UEF Summer Literacy Program was also different from typical school settings. Chairs and tables were pushed aside, making way for highly interactive sessions of singing, storytelling, movies and other recreation of the like. One young facilitator says she too found it to be a learning experience, discovering the depths of patience, the physics of everyday life and the diverse cultures spilling from all corners of Belize.
In closing this summer’s program, the library invited children along with their parents to join in on the “noun song” one last time. Ms. Virginia Echols, member of the Board of the UBAD Educational Foundation, was also in the ring of belting voices. Ring leaders for the afternoon were Aunty Ya-Ya Marin and Uncle Audley Mulati, as they were affectionately known by the kids.
After a few sing-alongs, those present made their way down to the yard and planted fruit, vegetable and flower seeds. So, KREMANDALA can expect papaya, craboo and garden flowers in the next couple of years. Hopefully those who sowed can reap at next year’s summer program.
Having gotten their hands dirty and taken quite a few photo ops, everyone ate, drank, and danced. With the day set aside for showing appreciation for a powerful learning experience winding down, parents, teachers and now, past students parted ways until next year.
Like those at the UEF Library, I part ways in the same way they did…Ayo (Nigerian for Happiness)….AMEN!