Many would argue that our children have never been under more pressure in the world of education. With the ongoing controversy surrounding the transfer test, and the unnecessary expectation heaped on children before they even reach their teenage years, the pressure to perform has never been greater.
Against the current educational backdrop, many parents who can afford it, are paying out significant amounts of money to give their children extra private tuition, on top of their school lessons.
With this in mind, a well known Derry youth group have joined forces with the Ancient Order of Hibernians to provide a unique learning scheme which they say is a response to the “educational injustice created by the current transfer test system.”
Oonagh McAllister, from the Search Youth Group, who are spearheading the initiative said: “We recognise that when children fall behind in primary school, it has a huge negative impact on their self esteem and future choices.
“In an attempt to overcome this barrier the ‘Love 2 Learn Club’ has been set up to support children aged between six and ten who are lacking educational confidence or have difficulties with basic literacy or numeracy skills.”
The group hopes to expand the idea to an afterschool club, if funding is secured, providing affordable tutoring facilitated by qualified teachers, youth workers and childcare professionals who will volunteer their time.
Oonagh said gaps created in education can have a lasting impact on young people as they mature, something ‘Love 2 Learn’ is hoping to address.
“It has been proven over and over again in various research and indeed in our experience in Derry Search Youth Group that education is the path to better health, lower crime, lifting people out of poverty, solving alcoholism and drugs and so much more. But sadly many children struggle daily for a multiplicity of reasons with their basic numeracy and literacy skills; this is then often reinforced at home when parents/carers themselves are also struggling with these basic skills.
“Many of the young people we have come in contact with over the years in Search have had a negative school experience, and seemingly ‘failed’ at school.
“Through various interventions and confidence building programmes, many Search participants have returned to education and gone on to achieve the education and job they had dreamed of, something they had thought was never possible.
“Many of these participants are now qualified teachers, youth workers, doctors, social workers, professionals in their field and want to give something back to the programme that set them on the right path.”
Oonagh explained the specifics of the programme which she was quick to point out is not a tuition service but rather a faith based programme to help children achieve their best.
“We work at all levels, and encourage peer coaching, so that older kids develop a sense of responsibility for their younger siblings or friends. We use fun interactive games and activities and work at your child’s level, to reinforce the learning they are getting at school.
“Whether they need to catch up, develop confidence or just support the school curriculum this is about learning in a fun group environment, surrounded by new and interesting people.
“Children become genuinely interested in discussing and working through basic numeracy and literacy skills, often finding the answer through debate and discussion with leaders or peers.
“The best thing about this club is that our games create a fun learning environment where kids can play games without realising they are learning
“This is a ‘Mol an Oige’ programme based on the model of Saint Don Bosco, who taught ‘praise the youth and they will blossom.”
Oonagh thanked the AOH who have given the use of their premises for the programme.
“This programme would not run without the support of the AOH who have been an invaluable source of support and have generously given us their premises to use,” she said.
To register or answer any questions or queries you might have telephone Oonagh on 07540959407 or Laura on 07821315288 or alternatively Register via our Mol an oige or DerrySearchYouthGroup facebook page