Yanick Charles moves one step closer to his academic goal
After not being able to complete his formal education due to an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, Yanick Charles is well on his way to realising his academic goal of attending the St Vincent and the Grenadine Community College.
The Chauncey resident, with the assistance of online learning through the STEM Educational Institute platform, will sit Information Technology at the CSEC level at this year’s CXC external examinations.
He will also sit for Office Administration, and Principles of Business to round out his Mathematics and English passes from previous years, which will account for the five required passes to enter the college.
“As they say, disability is not an inability. If you have a goal, you should go after it. Don’t make anything stop you because at the end of the day, it’s your choice, it’s your decision, nothing can stop you. I advise people who are home like me and want to further their education to go back to school, to take the step because it’s always worth it,” Charles told the media this week.
The 24-year-old was a student at the St Martin’s Secondary School a decade ago when he fell from a mango tree and was paralyzed from the waist down.
Attempts were made by the Ministry of Education to continue his education after the accident at the Buccament Bay Secondary School, but these efforts were aborted after Charles developed certain medical complications.
These setbacks have never deterred the young man from achieving his goals and after attending classes, he sat his first CSEC examination in 2016.
He told the media on Wednesday that attending classes physically was not always easy because he would have to take the bus with his wheelchair to get to the classes.
Charles credits the STEM Institute platform for being user friendly and much easier because he was able to attend classes virtually, in the comfort of his own home.
The STEM Educational Institute platform was launched a year ago on May 22, 2020 – a direct result of the $40,000 PRYME grant awarded to Petrus Gumbs, the founder and director of STEM SVG.
“Online learning could generally be seen as the next frontier of the education revolution. Our government, ministry and educators have to harness and manage the full power and advantage that online learning brings with it,” Gumbs said on Wednesday, while speaking to the media at the Curriculum Development Unit.
He said the COVID19 pandemic, and the volcanic eruption has forced people to accept e-learning.
And while there are some complaints about the method of learning, the advocate for online learning said “it is here to stay, and if the proper infrastructure and tools are in place, it has the potential to launch or make the online platforms, the online aspect of teaching a fruitful one”.
With a total of 25 teachers on the STEM Educational platform, Gumbs has been able to reach students through lessons and home-schooling across the length and breadth of St Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as other students across the region in Trinidad, Barbados and Montserrat.
Charles was a part of the first cohort of students to utilise the online platform, and he is among at least 10 Vincentians using it who will sit CSEC examinations this year. More than 20 CPEA students are also users of the STEM Educational Institute platform.
Gumbs, an Information Technology teacher at the St Martin’s Secondary School, told media practitioners that he personally took responsibility for tutoring Charles since last year.
In that time, they were able to complete all SBA’s and have arrived at the revision stage in preparation for the upcoming external exams.
Aretha Ryan-Charles, Education Officer for Special Education said access is one of the major difficulties faced by persons with disabilities on a daily basis – particularly persons with physical disabilities.
The Education Officer credits online programmes like the STEM Educational Institute for eliminating that issue for persons with disabilities in pursuit of access to education.
She however noted that the platform is not only useful to persons with disabilities, but others who may not necessarily have the time to pursue education in the traditional sense.
Once Yanick passes his three CSEC subjects this year, he intends to apply to the Community College to study Computer Science.