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City charter school system sends textbooks to schools in Bahamas

Currently, many kids share book

July 8, 2009
By MCKENZIE CASSIDY, mcassidy@breezenewspapers.com

Thousands of used textbooks departed from Oasis Middle School Tuesday morning bound for three public schools in the Bahamas.

More than 2,000 textbooks, teacher's guides, workbooks and supplemental materials were donated by the city of Cape Coral Charter System to help three small schools on Cat Island, where five to 15 students regularly share one book.

The city charter system is adopting a new textbook series for next year while the older versions are on route to Cat Island through the efforts of the Naples-based Freedom Water Foundation, which has worked with Bahamian schools since 2006.

Article Photos

MCKENZIE CASSIDY

Judy Aviles, third-grade teacher at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School, helped pack and tape up boxes of used textbooks Tuesday. Later, the books will be shipped to Cat Island in the Bahamas so every student can have their own textbook.

Regionally, the foundation's mission is to provide boating opportunities and marine-related education to at-risk or disabled youth.

"We will be able to supply every child on the island with a textbook," said John Puig, director of special projects at Freedom Water Foundation. "They will go from one textbook a class to a full classroom set."

School administrators, teachers, foundation representatives and charter students gathered at the school Tuesday to pack and load the materials onto a truck donated by Saks Fifth Avenue. The cargo will ship to Fort Lauderdale and an ocean freighter provided by G&G Shipping will carry it across the Caribbean Sea to the small, hook-shaped island.

Puig estimates that the students will receive the books within two weeks and will have all the materials they need for grades one to five.

Oasis Middle teacher John Mileff organized the textbook donation which also included cassettes and compact discs.

"These books would've gone to a recycling bin and wouldn't have been used again," he said.

Students in the charter system are encouraged to take up social causes in order to make connections with other schools and students from across the world, Mileff said.

Last school year the students paid $1 to wear jeans - the charter system has a strict dress code - and the proceeds facilitated Tuesday's project.

Also included in the shipment is 28,500 emergency meals donated by the Naples Rotary Club that will feed the local population during a hurricane or other natural disaster.

Cat Island is known internationally for its unspoiled beaches and landscape, although past the resorts and tourist enclaves lie villages entrenched in poverty. The island lies 130 miles southeast of the Bahamian capital of Nassau and is the childhood home of Academy Award winning Actor Sidney Poitier.

Investments to the island are typically earmarked for the tourist industry and not to the people inhabiting on the island, explained Mileff. He believes the donation will help the island to change its educational system for the better.

"They have resorts, but people living on the island live in third-world poverty," he said. "This will reform the curriculum for the whole island in a way their government could never support."

 
 
 

 

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