JIS News

The Ministry of Education has embarked on a multi-faceted literacy thrust to raise the level of literacy of all children in Jamaica. Several initiatives were introduced in the past with varying degrees of success.
Speaking with JIS News, Minister of Education, Andrew Holness said: “With the current focus on a new literacy thrust, and a myriad of supporting programmes, we are well on the way to achieving the target of 85 per cent of school children reading at or above grade 4 level by 2015.”
He informed that based on the literacy test which is administered to grade 4 students, the percentage that achieve mastery has been improving, from 64 per cent in 2005, to 75 per cent in 2007.
The new literacy thrust is one response to the 2004 Report of the Task Force on Educational Reform, which highlighted the underachievement of students, particularly those in non-traditional secondary schools, as well as the underachievement of boys.
This literacy thrust is being spearheaded by the Education Transformation Team (ETT), an arm of the Ministry of Education, which was established to guide implementation of the Task Force recommendations.
The ETT, in tackling the literacy challenge, has put in place a management structure comprising a National Literacy Co-ordinator and eight Regional Literacy Co-ordinators with responsibility for programme oversight and for stakeholders’ consultations. In addition, there are 50 Literacy Specialists who have been deployed to 212 of the most challenged schools.
There are also School-based Literacy Co-ordinators or Reading Specialists in all schools. According to National Literacy Co-ordinator, Laurel Brent-Harris, “a significant amount of work has already been done in planning, raising awareness, and training literacy co-ordinators and specialists, whose role it is to give support to classroom teachers, and analyse the data which informs the development of customised programmes used to assist students with specific challenges.” The Ministry has designed a range of programmes to address the literacy needs of students from the primary through to the secondary level of the education system. “With the level of collaboration that exists within the Ministry of Education and the partnerships which are forged with the private and public sectors, it is expected that there will be a positive change in the literacy landscape that should see the achievement of the 2015 target,” Mrs. Brent-Harris said.

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