KINGSTON — Ministry of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, says that plans are in place for the development of a family literacy programme, which will address illiteracy at the home and community levels.
He said that the programme will utilise students, who have been trained through the Career Advancement Programme (CAP) and the National Youth Service (NYS), who will serve as “literacy cadets” in communities.
He informed that he will be undertaking a pilot of the initiative in his West Central St. Andrew constituency.
“I intend to hire, for a stipend, approximately 20 literacy cadets and they will be stationed in the schools during the day and go to CAP in the evenings. They will be circulating throughout the communities to help households that may have difficulties in the supervision of children out of school. We have to take these ground breaking initiatives in order to end illiteracy in our country,” Minister Holness stated.
He was addressing the AAMM Co-operative Credit Union Limited's Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and TEACH scholarship awards ceremony held on August 4 at the Alhambra Inn in Kingston.
According to the Education Minister, parental involvement is a key part of the process in helping children achieve their full potential, which entails being able to read and write.
“Jamaica has to take the groundbreaking initiative to say that parents are responsible for the literacy of their children… we have to further say that literacy is not something that only some children can get and others can’t; literacy must be universal,” he stated.
He argued further that while some parents may be illiterate, they should be informed enough to know the importance and value of education.
“Parents have a duty to supervise the education of their children. It matters not if you can’t read, tell that child ‘take the book’. If you can’t understand what’s in the book, your duty then moves to getting help,” he stated.
Minister Holness noted that laws are in place that specify the duties, rights and responsibilities of parents and the Government has proposed that parents be held accountable for their “own failings”. He said that public sentiments appear to be growing towards the move.
“With all that is happening in our schools, with the increase in violence in the society, the delinquencies of our children particularly in public places, people are beginning to see the importance of holding parents accountable,” he stated.
These laws include the Child Care and Protection Act, the Maintenance of Children Act and the Education Act.
Minister Holness, in the meantime, lauded the scholarship awardees for their achievements and encouraged them to continue striving for excellence.
A total of 25 students were awarded based on their performance in this year's GSAT, while the TEACH scholarship went to two tertiary level students.
The AAMM (Association of Assistant Masters and Mistresses) Co-operative Credit Union Limited was created in order to help teachers access credit facilities, which were difficult to obtain from the more traditional financial institutions.
By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter