Tutors make a difference at prison

The Cayman Islands Reading Aides, a non-profit organization that provides community and prison-based classes in reading, writing and numeracy, has been sending volunteer tutors to HM Northward.

Charles Smith works with his tutor Richard Naraine

Charles Smith works with his tutor Richard Naraine, who commented, “This programme is very rewarding and a very enriching experience in the lives of these individuals who need it.”
Photo: Submitted

After appealing for volunteers several months ago, Sandy McFarlane, president of CIRA, has been training tutors on an ongoing basis.

At the prison, CIRA tutors have been working with inmates to give them the tools they need to achieve their goals and at the same time inspire the prisoners and themselves.

Every Wednesday from 6pm-8pm and Saturday from 10am-12pm, these tutors go to the prison to teach their students to read and write. The volunteers come from varied backgrounds, but have a common goal: to teach and inspire their students.

Recently, Ms McFarlane checked on the progress of the students and tutors. She said she was delighted but not surprised by the positive responses from both students and tutors, having tutored for many years and knowing how rewarding it is to freely give a gift you have.

One of the important aspects of the literacy programme is the ‘Each One Teach One’ method. The one-on-one interaction between tutor and student allows lessons to progress at the student’s own pace.

Adults in the literacy programme learn they can succeed, and as their self-esteem grows, they become able to achieve personal goals such as reading books to their children, and teaching and helping others who are struggling with the same problems they had.

As an example, Jonathan Millwood completed the programme and now helps his fellow inmate.

Alton McDonald, a teacher at the prison, said the programme is progressing excellently and the men were all enthusiastic and excited to be learning.

He added that the management and education staffs of the prison are very grateful to CIRA and its tutors for their contribution and that they are making a difference in the lives of the inmates. CIRA’s tutoring, combined with the ongoing education programme at the prison, enhances the overall learning abilities of the students.

Ms McFarlane thanked Walkers for allowing the use of their conference room to conduct all the literacy training of the many tutors who came forward to volunteer. The law firm also encouraged many of its own employees to join the programme.

The student and tutor training books and materials for the literacy programme were sponsored jointly by Rotary Central, Rotary Grand Cayman and Rotary Sunrise.

The ongoing programme at HM Northward prison also needs volunteers. If you are interested in tutoring, please contact Sandy McFarlane at 945-1934.