The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the philanthropic arm of the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association (SLHTA), on Monday, September 19, 2022 launched its inaugural After School Programme at the Soufriere Primary School. In attendance were parents, students, school officials and representatives from the SLHTA and TEF.
The After School Programme is aimed at helping students from the Soufriere Infant and Primary schools attain grade-level reading proficiency, enhance reading comprehension and ultimately improve performance at national examinations. The programme will provide over sixty (60) students with instruction in Reading Therapy, Emotional Learning, Agricultural Science, Physical Education, Music (Steel Pan) and Arts & Crafts.
Mr. Kendal Alexander is a Counsellor at Soufriere Comprehensive Secondary School and serves as the coordinator of the programme. Said Alexander: “We recognised that a lot of children fail because they are incapable of reading. We recognised that if we bridge that gap very early; if they have the capacity to read and comprehend very well, then, of course, the performance in District Eight will be something that all of us as Soufrierians could be very proud of.” He thanked the TEF for providing support and urged parents to be committed to the programme to ensure the objectives are met.
“The children are the future,” said TEF Programme Manager Ms. Donette Ismael. “This programme is our way of taking care of them and ensuring that they have the necessary foundation to be successful.”
She continued: “People may ask ‘Why Soufriere?’ Soufriere is a hub for tourism. In our marketing campaigns, we prominently feature the Pitons and the Sulphur Springs, so it is fitting that this programme commences in Soufriere! It’s a way of giving back to the people that make tourism happen. It is your hospitality, good nature and warm smile to a visitor that makes them want to come back to Saint Lucia.”
Ismael told the students that they can achieve anything they put their minds to, and encouraged them to enjoy the programme. She also reminded parents of their critical role, stating: “You are integral in making this programme a success. Without your commitment; without you encouraging your children, this programme will not be successful.”
Ismael heaped praises on Ladera Resort, Stonfield Villa Resort and Renwick & Company Ltd.— the first three sponsors to partner with the TEF on the pilot project. She also thanked all the companies that contribute to the TEF. Without them, she noted, this initiative would not be possible. Based on the success of this pilot, the SLHTA intends to introduce the programme in other districts.
An enthusiastic District Eight Education Officer, Ms. Joel Charlemagne, thanked the TEF for deciding to launch the initiative in Soufriere, and encouraged students to put their best foot forward. “It’s a beautiful programme, all about developing our children holistically. Let’s make this work! We are very grateful and we are indebted to them. The only way we can repay the SLHTA is by giving them excellent results.”