Tutoring group formed to help during COVID-19 education interruption

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020


A small group of undergraduate students at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will be tutoring secondary school students in Belize affected by the COVID-19-related school closures. Tutoring will take place online, and instructors are eager to start as soon as possible, running the program at least until the end of May. All tutoring will be fully subsidised by the tutors themselves, and Sea Alms, a small spa and skin care company recently formed in Belmopan.

(L-R) Alec and Angel recruiting tutors from Harvard and other universities around New England – 20 April 2020, Belmopan – Photo by Sasha Flores.

Angel Navidad, a third-year Belizean undergraduate at Harvard reached out to friends and classmates for this not-for-profit project, after learning that not all students in Belize with internet access were receiving online classes. Alongside Alec Shannon, a clinical research coordinator at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and his mother Sarahy Benavidez, a partner at Sea Alms in Belmopan, he quickly worked out the details for a tutoring programme. Angel and Alec agreed to recruit friends at Harvard and similar university colleges in New England, while Sea Alms agreed to provide support services to tutors, students, and their families, for the duration of the programme.

Any fourth or sixth form student without access to rigorous online learning may sign up for the programme online at seaalms.com/learn. Students will need a camera and microphone-equipped laptop, and internet access with upload and download speeds of at least 1.5 Mbps. Students will also need parental consent to participate. The programme will focus on English and Mathematics, which are considered integral parts of secondary school curricula by universities like Harvard, though sciences and arts will be added as more tutors are recruited. Tutoring will take the form of Oxford tutorials, with one or two tutors and two students per session, held once or twice a week. The curriculum will be tailored to the students’ current progress, though tutors will try to provide instruction that’s as rigorous and complete as possible, to ensure students are prepared for sixth form or university college.


 

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