Holness Attends Literacy Fair at Seaward Primary and Junior High


The Seaward Primary and Junior High School held its inaugural Literacy Fair at the school, Olympic Way, West Central St. Andrew on Wednesday (March 31).
The event was aimed at encouraging students and parents to engage in activities promoting literacy and numeracy at school, in the home and the wider community.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Education and Member of Parliament for the area, Hon. Andrew Holness, said that the use of technology to aid the teaching process was critical in the fight against illiteracy.
The Minister also noted that education breaks the cycle of poverty, as educated persons are able to get better paying jobs and elevate themselves in life.
Programmes such as these, he noted, will ensure that, within the next five years, all schools in the constituency of West Central St. Andrew will be turning out 100 per cent literacy. The current rate on average is 40 to 50 per cent.
He underscored that crime in vulnerable communities is usually a function of youth between the ages of 16 to 25, and eventually affects the attendance rate of the children.
“We can’t educate our societies, we can’t educate our country when the country is in the grip of crime and, often times, it is our youth,” the Minister said.
He stated that the education strategy is not just what is done within the four walls of the classroom.
“We have to become literally social workers to reach out in the communities where the schools are, to make contact with the parents and the community leaders,” he suggested.
“When I speak to the youngsters, 16 to 24, 80 per cent of them can’t read, they are illiterate, they can’t find work.the solution to the problem is not going to happen overnight,” he said.
Mr. Holness said that he has donated $2 million from his Constituency Development Fund allocation to a literacy programme.
“The intention is that within the next five years, the cohort of 16 to 24 year olds that will live in this community won’t be illiterate. So they will have another choice to make with their lives, that they will be able to acquire knowledge to help them to negotiate the challenges that life throws at them,” he said.
The remainder of the funds will be spent on a parenting education campaign towards parents supporting the development of literacy in their children. He implored parents to play a greater role in the development of literacy in their children.
The ceremony was also used to mark the official opening of the school’s library and the handing over of 10 computers by the Ministry and Teens for Technology. The Ministry also donated an electronic whiteboard, adding that other schools will be getting donations of computers and electronic whiteboards in short order.
Principal of the institution, Arlene Thomas, said that literacy is critical at all stages of development and, as such, the programmes are deemed essential for the overall fight against illiteracy.
“We are relentless in our fight against illiteracy.reading is life,” she said.
The programme stemmed from a meeting held last year between Mr. Holness and school principals from the constituency, to discuss the national Grade Four Literacy Test.
Teens for Technology is a non-profit organization, whose mission is to help children in various countries acquire technological skills and training.

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