Camille’s Academy, Inc. pushes digital learning

– launches smart school facility in Region 3

Rehanna Ramsay

5/1/20225 min read

Kaieteur News – Even as schools across the country return to traditional face-to-face learning, Camille Academy Inc.(CAI), a private education institution continues to push for digital learning to be introduced to students at all grade levels.

CAI founder and CEO, Mrs. Camille Deokie-Gorakh

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder, Ms. Camille Deokie-Gorakh said that the school has been pushing digital learning, ensuring that its students remain on the path of learning and academic growth.

“We are in a digital age… so the need for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to be used in schools is more than ever. One of our primary focuses here at Camille’s Academy is to have ICT integrated with the school’s curriculum which is the regular classroom learning activities so as to increase the value of our students preparing them fully for the future,” she said.

According to Deokie-Gorakh, CAI’s drive for e-learning was borne out of the learning challenges, presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. She noted that while the pandemic presented many challenges it equally opened opportunities for growth.

Camille’s Academy smart school facility located at Crane Public Road, West Coast Demerara was launched last September

CAI also uses the projector screen as part of efforts to incorporate learning in schools

Students in classroom at CAI engaged in learning via a television

“We just needed to be smart and tap into those opportunities and see how it could be leveraged to the kind of service we were providing…” she said.

In fact, last September, the private school launched the first Smart School facility in Region Three, which is to be fully operationalised by next September.

Deokie-Gorakh told this newspaper that the smart school facility located at Crane Public Road West Coast Demerara, is one of the school’s four branches that is moving in the direction of digital learning.
The school has similar facilities at Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara (EBD), Diamond EBD, and Lusignan, East Coast Demerara.

Deokie-Gorakh asserted, “…All the changes that occurred during COVID-19 pandemic made it virtually impossible to return students to the traditional classroom…COVID has given us the opportunity to move in that direction at all our locations.”

“The smart infrastructure that we are implementing here at Crane is already being set up at Lusignan and will be replicated at the other locations,” she added.
The CEO noted too that the smart education objective of the school is in keeping with the overarching strategic goal of the Ministry of Education.

“For those who would have read the Ministry of Education’s Strategic Goal for 2021—2025, it spoke a lot about employability and building the capacity of our people. And education is most important when it comes to building the human resource capacity,” added Deokie-Gorakh, who is also CAI’s founder and Principal.

She continued, “We are in the 21st Century and we have found interest among our children in ICT and artificial intelligence. With the budding interest in artificial intelligence, we see the need to introduce coding in schools even at the youngest level.”
To this end, she said the school is currently in discussion with two agencies externally to introduce coding to students as young as five years old.

“It’s all about building capacity to prepare our students for where Guyana is heading; the expansion of the booming oil and gas industry. The President recently spoke about how ICT will play a role in development… I believe as much as there is a need for physical infrastructure, the equal focus must be on the human capacity.” As such, she held that “schools and other learning institutions play a very pivotal role in building that capacity.

“This is because of the fact that we are solely responsible for moulding the young minds hence the need for the Smart School.”

As a result, the Principal explained that back in 2020, CAI launched a partnership with another company and created software to help the school in its goal to introduce and incorporate digital learning platforms to all four of its branches.

“That company built an entire software, a school management platform. It manages their entire attendance, their performance, and even the curriculum. So we have moved from the traditional way of preparing our curriculum. Our entire curriculum is now digitised. We have even moved to E-testing…which is a direction that CXC is also moving in now,” she said.

However, despite the positive input, the CAI founder noted that there are some challenges.
She explained, “One of our major challenges is the internet infrastructure; all of these projects that we have invested heavily in are dependent on having proper internet infrastructure. That has been an issue. In the meantime, the school has been using the same digital content and using the projector and television screens and other tools to continue its work.”

Nevertheless, Deokie-Gorakh opined, people are gravitating toward this type of learning.
She asserted, “We have seen results … The school expanded during the pandemic because parents are making the investment in a private education because they want the best for their children, so we owe them that much to deliver nothing but the best. That’s why we are constantly on the lookout for how we will continue to add value for their investment.”

She continued, “We have seen results of our constant push to provide our students and their parents with the best, in the middle of the pandemic we were able to open our fourth location at Crane and that facility has grown within the last six to eight months from a population of over 35 children to now 300 regular attendees.”

Added to this, CAI has consistently recorded good pass rates. Just last year, the school secured a 90 percent overall pass rate at the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) and an 80 percent pass rate at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certification (CSEC) examinations.

The CEO went on to note that while CAI understands the importance of academic achievements, the school’s main goal is to produce students who are balanced in the other areas of life.
In this regard, she noted that the school has a number of social capacity-building initiatives to encourage and ensure students benefit from life skills training.
The school is currently embarking on a capacity-building project specifically to help support mental health in the school.
She disclosed, “On May 19, we will be launching a life skill programme and that initiative is between the Life Skill Education Institute which is being done with Action Invest Caribbean as one way of supporting student’s mental health. It is the core of ensuring that our children have the capacity to function emotionally and psychologically. As much ICT is important, mental health and other aspects of learning are equally important.”
Additionally, CAI has a Young Entrepreneurs Smart Start (YESS) programme which is also in collaboration with Action COACH–an international business coaching firm.
According to the CAI Principal, the YESS programme was introduced to help students at Camille Academy who are interested in entrepreneurship hone their business skills from a young age.