ENCORE program to help educate Ghanaian students
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Feb. 25, 2011
A group of participants in the Glastonbury Human Services' ENCORE program are embarking on a mission to do something rather unique – to create a system using Skype.com’s telecommunications technology (like a video phone call) to provide a one-on-one tutoring system for students in Ghana.
The program is still in the preliminary planning phases, but the group met on Feb. 23 to brainstorm about the logistical needs.
Richard Fontaine, a retired professor and administrator from Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson, is leading the group, as well as a similar one through that school.
Fontaine said he chose Ghana because of his experiences on a trip he took there last summer.
“I decided to work with kids,” Fontaine said. “I had also spoken with people who had just volunteered in Africa, and spoke very highly of that experience.”
Fontaine said he saw a need for educational support for Ghanaian children, as it is “non-existent” there, he said.
He added that older citizens in the ENCORE age bracket have a wealth of backgrounds and experience. It also didn't hurt that he and Cathy Russi, ENCORE's coordinator, are first cousins.
“I followed the path of least resistance,” Fontaine said. “I go where they know and trust me.”
Some of the hurdles the group identified include determining the frequency of the sessions, and matching the skills and needs of the Ghanaian learners with recruiting the right tutors here in the Glastonbury and Danielson areas.
Reference materials, such as textbooks and websites, will need to be sought, as well as knowledge of Ghanaian culture and customs, in order to establish proper protocol.
One plus is that English is the primary language of Ghana, although dialects and accents may be a small hurdle, Fontaine said.
Fontaine said for now, the focus is to get the program going to help African children, but if it catches on in other places in the world, he certainly wouldn't be opposed to it.
For more information, contact ENCORE Coordinator Cathy Russi at 860-652-7605 or firstname.lastname@example.org.