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  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Elaine Foster-Allen, says the Ministry is optimistic that the literacy rate among students at the grade four level will reach the 85 per cent target by 2015.
  • This, she said, is based on significantly improved results in the 2013/14 academic year, which saw 76.3 per cent of the youngsters, who sat the Grade Four Literacy Test, achieving mastery.
  • Mrs. Foster-Allen credited the improvements to Ministry-led interventions, over the last 10 years.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Elaine Foster-Allen, says the Ministry is optimistic that the literacy rate among students at the grade four level will reach the 85 per cent target by 2015.

This, she said, is based on significantly improved results in the 2013/14 academic year, which saw 76.3 per cent of the youngsters, who sat the Grade Four Literacy Test, achieving mastery.

Speaking at an International Literacy Day symposium and expo, at the Mico University College in Kingston on Monday, September 8, Mrs. Foster-Allen credited the improvements to Ministry-led interventions, over the last 10 years, to address the “less than comforting” findings of the 2004 report of the Task Force on Educational Reform, established to examine literacy outcomes.

The report highlighted, among other things, low literacy levels among school-aged children, particularly at the primary level.

“The area of literacy has, over the past decade, benefitted from significant investments, much of which manifested…in various literacy interventions. We have had huge financial investments through grant funding, for example from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), (and) through loan funding from the Inter-American (IDB) Bank or the World Bank,” the Permanent Secretary indicated.

Resulting from these, Mrs. Foster-Allen said, is implementation of the National Comprehensive Literacy Programme, which was introduced in March 2007, and fully rolled out in September 2010.

Additionally, she said, literacy specialists and coordinators have been introduced to provide direct support to the schools. “These specialists are given their own targets, in keeping with our new system of accountability,” she informed.

The Permanent Secretary said the literacy programme was further boosted late last year, with the deployment of 90 reading coaches to 450 primary schools island-wide, under a USAID/Ministry of Education programme, among other interventions.

Stating that “things are happening in the area of literacy”, Mrs. Foster-Allen said based on last year’s Grade Four Literacy Test results, “we have improved and, therefore, my expectations, and dare I say, our expectations, have been raised, (for even greater improvements) in the results next year (2015).”

Monday’s observance of International Literacy Day was the 47th commemoration since it was launched by the United Nations in 1966.

This year’s global celebrations were observed under the theme: ‘Literacy and Sustainable Growth’.

Several schools and organizations participated in a range of activities inclusive of workshops and discussions, at the national celebrations, at Mico.