August 10, 2011
It is time to break out of the box -- educationally that is, and Akhepran International Academy, a new educational institution that will cater to students from K-3 through grade 12, hopes when it officially opens its doors on Monday, September 5 to set a new standard and revolutionize the system.
"What makes this school different from other private schools is it is taking the approach of educating the whole student," says Rhonda Wright, director of marketing and public relations for the academy. "There is not just a focus on academics or sports. It is to educate the whole student by integrating intellectual, cultural, environmental and spiritual harmony in each lesson which will serve to produce a more conscientious global citizen.
Our aim and our goal is to produce students who when they leave the institution will be able to be well on their way to being a global citizen. They will receive the necessary foundational tools that will allow them to enter the next level of education ahead of those who they will be entering with. They will be better equipped to negotiate, plan and communicate with global leaders and trendsetters around the world. We are producing global citizens."
The institution plans to utilize the approved Ministry of Education curriculum, but improve upon it by integrating other successful methods such as elements from homeschooling to fortify the program. In merging the best from different educational models the unique curriculum will take the individual needs of the different children in consideration.
"There is this belief that children know nothing and it is up to us to cram as much knowledge at them as possible," says Wright. "At Akhepran we believe children are born with innate abilities and knowledge bases, and as educators we are supposed to bring it out and guide them on how to build upon it. We want students to be able to associate learning with everyday life by helping them to expand their minds. Instead of making school a stressful environment that only teaches them concepts but not application, we want to get them involved in a hands-on educational experience that will allow them to freely see everyday situations as a learning opportunity to practice their theoretical knowledge."
Wright says often the mistake is made by limiting students to a strict rote curriculum and they do not know how what they learn applies to them and their world. She says many times a student's unique interests and abilities are not taken into consideration and that educators have to think outside the box, letting students learn as the Ministry of Education requires, but at the same time being allowed to go beyond the four walls so that the world becomes the classroom.
She says the new view on creating a more worldy student is essential in the changing times where more people are going out into the world be it for leisure, education or business.
"The world is opening its doors and more countries are taking down their walls to form new alliances with foreign partners and this ever-changing, culturally savvy world is entering our country as we speak through the surge of immigrants integrating in societies. We can no longer just prepare our students to live in our country and interact with persons in this region but instead prepare them to be worldly now."
At Akhepran they hope to adequately equip their students to tackle the new challenges of the shifting world by teaching them how to embrace their own abilities and culture so they can fully appreciate and delve into those of others. "We often make the mistake of limiting students to a strict and rote curriculum. They do not know how what they learn applies to them and their world. Many times their unique interests and abilities are not taken into consideration and they will only remember what they learn for a particular time. This is why it is important at our school to immerse students in learning. We have to think outside of the box and let them learn as the Ministry of Education requires but at the same time be allowed to go beyond the four walls so the world becomes their classroom."
Wright says the staff's interest in not only integrating different methods to strengthen the education program but inter-grading by bringing students from different grade levels together for certain subjects to learn in unison will make the school different.
"Of course there will be certain parameters in which work will be given according to grade level, but learning itself is not something you should limit to an age group. Students teach one another and uplift each other in their unique ways of thinking. If we open the school and have only two grade 10 students and a handful of grade 11 [students] we will teach the students nonetheless and combine them so there is no isolation. The world does not work that way and learning and school should not do it either."
Their intent is to create a community setting where students can feel a sense of togetherness and a family-like environment which she says they hope will teach their children to cooperate, be team members, resolve problems and share in ways that many modern day Bahamians have forgotten how to.
Traditional classes offered will include English, mathematics, religion, home economics and the sciences. In addition to the typical Spanish and French foreign language options, Akhepran will offer classes in Mandarin and different African languages. Subjects like history will be taught with a new perspective at the school. Topics based on national and cultural history will be focused on more so students will have a deeper understanding and appreciation for what is theirs.
"We will teach all the classes and the syllabus in requirement with ministry regulations, but we also hope to improve where we can so students can be more prepared for the world and appreciative of their heritage." The school located at #1 Bernard Road and Grant Street in Fox Hill can only accommodate 350 students. They anticipate no more than 25 students per class.
"It is not the school's intention to become a huge institution as we want to focus on the students as closely as possible. We want to provide as much useable information to the students so they have a deeper understanding of the world, their country and most of all themselves." Tuition to the academy for all grade levels is $700 exclusive of a one-time only registration and technology fees which is announced at registration and is on-going until the school's opening.
The academy, the brainchild of Senator Jacinta Higgs, who will serve as administrator, will be officially unveiled tonight at the Kem En Het Heritage Centre, where interested parents can speak to directors to get an understanding of the unique qualities of the academy.
Wright says the name "Akhepran" means the transformation of oneself by essentially knowing from whence you came, history and heritage.
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