Youth Empowerment for A Stronger Society or YESS USC is an initiative emerging from the History and Social Studies Department at the University of the Southern Caribbean, premised on the University’s ethos that the holistic development of young people is essential to their success. It caters to CSEC students writing the History and English exams. The holistic aspect of the programme is accomplished by facilitating the development of skills and attitudes that contribute to student success.
YESS: USC is coordinated by Associate Professor in the Department of History and Social Studies Dr. Fiona Rajkumar and team members include Dean of the School of Education and Humanities Dr. Loverne Jacobs-Browne, Chair of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Education and Humanities Dr. Allison Campbell-Sanderson, Dr. Terencia Joseph, Mr. Hayden Mckenna, Mr. Roland Sealy, Ms. Renis Gabriel, Ms. Fay White and Mrs. Leiba-Ann Ferreira all faculty members in the School of Education and Humanities. This mentorship programme began in January of 2018 with a pilot of 85 students. From September 2018 to March 2019, 550 history students and 25 teachers from 23 schools across both Trinidad and Tobago benefitted from the programme. This represented an increase of 500% compared to the 85 students who participated in the programe during its pilot phase. From September 2018 the Ministry of Education in Trinidad and the Division of Education in Tobago approved the offering of the YESS: USC History Mentorship Programme to students of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2019 the programm was extended to cater to Form 5 English students in Tobago. English students in Tobago were offered sessions in Summary Writing, Creative Writing and Argumentative Writing. Further to this in 2021 the programme extended even more to include other disciplines in the Humanities like Literature and Music.
The YESS-USC Mentorship Programme focuses on the following areas:
- Complimentary lectures on CSEC exam themes in the various disciplines
- History reading, history essay writing and History SBA Skills
- Composition, theory, Music history and listening exercises in Music
- Textual criticisms for the Tempest and other relevant exam skills
- Main areas of writing (summary writing, creative writing and argumentative writing) for the English Language exams
- Past paper preparation exercises
- Study and exam preparation skills, stress management and self-discipline
Some Participating Schools across Trinidad and Tobago:
- CUC Secondary School
- Bates Memorial School
- Southern Academy
- Barataria West Secondary
- El Dorado East Secondary
- Joseph’s Convent St. Joseph
- Joseph College
- Lakshmi Girls Hindu College
- Corpus Christi Girls College
- South East Port of Spain Secondary School
- Bishop Anstey High School
- Bishops East Girls High School
- Arima Central Secondary School
- Rio Claro West Secondary School
- Princess Town West Secondary School
- Princess Town East Secondary School
- San Fernando West Secondary School
- Couva West Secondary School
- Barrackpore Secondary School
- Debe High School
- Speyside Secondary School (Tobago)
- Signal Hill Secondary School (Tobago)
- Scarborough Secondary School (Tobago)
- Pentecostal Light and Life High School (Tobago)
- Waterloo secondary
- Chaguanas North Secondary
- Augustine Secondary
- Augustine Girls High School
- Trinity East
- Queens Royal College
- San Juan North Secondary
- San Juan South Secondary
- Diego Martin Secondary
- Mucarapo West Secondary
- Mucarapo East Secondary
- Waterloo High School
The feedback from history teachers and students who attended the YESS: USC sessions across Trinidad and Tobago has been overwhelmingly positive. The following is a sample of trends taken from the comments of teachers and students:
- All the teachers shared that they appreciated the sessions on essay writing for History students as this is a serious weakness that impedes exam success.
- Students also appreciated the sessions on essay writing and felt that the skills could be transferred to their other subject areas.
- The majority of teachers and students stated that the past paper dimension of workshop was indispensable to the students.
- Teachers expressed having the students work together to come up with answers helped them to see the importance of working together.
- Teachers expressed that having students present their work in a public speaking format was also very important as it helped them to develop speaking skills.
- Some history teachers even felt that they were professionally developed by the workshops.
- The English teachers and students expressed that the three areas that the workshop focused on were relevant to their success.
- Students also expressed appreciation for the sessions on self-discipline, time-table creation and stress management which they felt were practical to their success.
We look forward to the continued collaboration with the teachers and principals of all our secondary schools across the region.