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In not more than 160 words, describe the volunteers and their work.
 
Brest is a maritime city in the west of France. It is famous for its annual sailing festival. Held in the summer months, this festival's highlight is the display along the coast of beautifully preserved sailing ships.

For the past fifteen years the city of Brest in France has been attracting attention of another kind. Governmental and non-governmental bodies are praising the city for its contribution to children's education. This contribution is in the form of an organization that is made up of senior citizens who work as volunteer teachers in primary schools in the city. This organization was formed in 1985. Since then, other cities and towns all over France have followed the example set in Brest.

Men and women between the ages of fifty-five and eighty years serve in this organization. Madame Faust is one of them. For the past seven years she has been a volunteer teacher in the Carbonne Primary school. They find her very kind, patient and loving. She helps the slower children along so they are not afraid of making mistakes. Many of the children confide in her. Sometimes they tell her things they do not tell their teachers and parents. To Madame Faust, being volunteer teacher is very rewarding.

Although volunteers need not have been qualified teachers or had teaching experience before, they are carefully selected. After enrolment, they have to undergo a one year probationary period. During this trial period they have to prove their effectiveness as teachers to the primary school children entrusted to their care. Among the volunteers' responsibilities are providing help with schoolwork to children with special needs and tutoring after school hours.

Children who have trouble keeping up with schoolwork have improved tremendously since attending the classes given by these volunteer teachers. The volunteers are dedicated to their work. They are able to establish a close relationship with the children because they patiently and lovingly assist them in reading, writing and arithmetic. Indeed the children feel like the senior citizen volunteers are family members or part of an extended family. This is a valuable arrangement in today's impersonal and computerized society.

Some volunteers teach after school hours. This scheme greatly benefits children who have single parents or parents who are both working. The children are supervised at work and play. They are allotted time to play in order not to overtax their minds. This extended `day care' has been highly recommended by schools and parents. The senior citizen volunteers are not only teachers but surrogate grandparents. Both teachers and parents are happy to have their children in the excellent care of the senior volunteer teachers.

Madam Faust is not the only senior citizen volunteer teacher who has a special relationship with the children. Most of the other volunteer teachers are equally effective and are well-loved. They have won the appreciation of their society. For the volunteers, it is a wonderful way to continue being useful to society.

Bigger and busier urban areas in France have set up their own senior citizen volunteer teachers' organizations. Most schools that are making use of such programs have reported immense improvements in the education and well-being of their students.

The program that started in Brest has not only spread to other parts of France but also the other parts of the world. There are many senior citizens out there who are willing and able to contribute to society.

 

Main points
1 Organization started in 1985, Brest, France
2 Men and women volunteers 55-80 years

   Primary school teaching
3 No qualification or former experience needed but one year probation

4 Responsibilities: special needs children, after-school tutoring

5 Close relationship formed between volunteers and children

6 Benefit everyone
7 Program copied elsewhere

 
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Answer
 
The organization started in 1985 in Brest, France. The volunteers are of both sexes between fifty-five and eighty years. They teach at the city's primary schools. Although teaching qualifications and previous teaching experience are not required, volunteers are carefully chosen. They go through a one year trial period during which they have to prove their effectiveness as teachers. Among their responsibilities is helping special needs children improve their basic skills. While guiding these children in their lessons, the patient and loving volunteers form close ties with them. Another special job is teaching after school hours. The children are supervised at work and play in their parents' absence. Children with single or working parents benefit specially from this arrangement. Most of the organization's senior citizen volunteer teachers are like Madame Faust. Children respond well to them and society highly appreciates them. The programme has been copied elsewhere in France with equal success, 151 words
     
 
 

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