Senior Advisor to the Minister of Education, Dr. Rebecca Tortello, is encouraging Jamaicans to actively participate in the Government’s literacy drive, particularly at the primary level, by committing themselves to reading to at least one child a day.
Speaking Wednesday (April 14) at Western Union’s I P.L.E.D.G.E (I Promise to Lend Encouragement to Develop Growth in Education) Programme 2010 launch, at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston, Dr. Tortello said if everyone would offer their support in the development of education, one of the nation’s most challenging hurdles to growth would be cleared.
She said the I P.L.E.D.G.E education initiative was not only timely, but critical, as this was the attitude that the Ministry of Education wished all Jamaicans would adopt.
I P.L.E.D.G.E is an initiative of GraceKennedy Money Services (GKMS), through the brand Western Union, which started in 2004.
Students of Dunrobin Primary School, in Kingston, seems very enthusiastic prior to entertaining the audience at the launch of the I P.L.E.D.G.E Programme 2010, on April 14 at the Terra Nova Hotel, in Kingston.
The programme seeks to support the development of primary education in Jamaica through focus on improving literacy, particularly reading.
Dr. Tortello said primary school literacy was the key plank of the Ministry’s education plan and, as such, one of the Government’s main goals is to achieve 100 per cent literacy at the primary school level, within the next five years.
“To do this we have introduced a competence-based policy in order to cut off the flow of illiterate students to our secondary schools, by requiring mastering of the Grade Four Literacy Test before a student is able to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test,” she said.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Ltd., Mr. Douglas Orane, in dialogue with Managing Director of GraceKennedy Remittance Services, Miss Joan Marie Powell, at the launch of the I P.L.E.D.G.E Programme 2010, held at the Terra Nova Hotel, in Kingston, on April 14.
She also stated that students requiring support will benefit from target intervention programmes with necessary resources.
“We are trying to send a clear signal to the country, that focus must be placed on ensuring that our children attain the grade appropriate level of readiness at each stage of our education system, not just at the GSAT,” she remarked.
“The Government will defend literacy as a key deliverable and hold itself, the Ministry of Education, officers, principals and teachers accountable for meeting this target of 100 percent literacy,” she added.
She said the Ministry therefore supports I P.L.E.D.G.E and its various programmes, as it represented a partnership in the development of primary education.
The programme has been committed to educating primary school children about the importance of reading, while incorporating the use of computers as a learning tool.
Part of I P.L.E.D.G.E’s initiatives is Reading Week, in which Western Union uses the occasion to visit schools in all 14 parishes to read to the students.
Those involved in the reading sessions include, patron of the programme, Her Excellency the Most Hon. Lady Patricia Allen, wife of the Governor-General of Jamaica, Prime Minister Bruce Golding, public officials, media practitioners and popular entertainers.
Managing Director of GKMS, Joan Marie Powell, said that last year Western Union, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), officially handed over 13 learning centres to primary schools across Jamaica. These learning centres, she said, were equipped with approximately 200 computers and printers valued at approximately $11.6 million.
She further stated that this year, in addition to the English Competition and Reading Week, Western Union will be hosting its inaugural Schools Debate Competition.
For Reading Week, the theme this year is, “Today’s Readers, Tomorrow’s Leaders.” It will also incorporate the disabled and at risk youth.