Education Ministry to Improve Literacy Rates


The Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture will be going all out in its efforts to improve Grade Four literacy rates in Primary schools during the 2005/06 school year through several planned initiatives.
Education Minister, Maxine Henry Wilson made the announcement in her opening presentation in the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday (May 10). She informed that the Ministry’s annual summer camp programme for students who did not attain satisfactory levels of mastery in reading; in-service training for teachers and a new literacy intervention strategy were three main areas that would be focused on in the efforts to improve literacy rates at the Grade four level.
“The 2005 summer literacy programme has been developed to provide greater impact on learners at the non-mastery level, bringing us closer to achieving the target of 95 per cent of the cohort,” Minister Henry-Wilson informed. She further noted the Ministry would be working towards securing a blend of well-trained specialists and volunteers to assist in the remediation at this level.
The private sector will also be invited to participate in and support the camps in order to enhance their productivity. “In keeping with our vision for full participation, the private sector organizations will be identified and approached to contribute to the enhanced summer literacy programme in respect of planning, releasing personnel for participation, provision of lunches, transportation and procurement of materials,” Minister Henry-Wilson explained.
An additional feature of the camps will be the participation of parents, “parental participation in both the support of learning and also in actual learning has also been identified a desired output,” the Education Minister informed. She further explained that the full nature of parental participation in the camps would be detailed subsequent to further consultation by the Transformation Team. The use of technologies will also be a feature in the camps. Mrs. Henry-Wilson noted that the Ministry in collaboration with Early Childhood Commission would be implementing an auditory and visual screening and referral programme to ensure that children are physically ready for instruction at their pace.
The Ministry will also focus on the improvement of teaching techniques and capacities in the efforts to improve Grade four literacy rates. “We aim to increase efficiency through the rationalization of teacher education,” Minister Henry-Wilson informed the House. She noted that the Ministry continued to strengthen the teaching capacities of more than 8,542 teachers who were trained to deliver the Revised Primary Curriculum, through in-service and mentorship programmes driven by the Ministry’s professional development unit.
Minister Henry-Wilson further informed that incentives would be made available to encourage the performances of teachers. “In an effort to provide incentives for teachers we have collaborated with LASCO to develop a ‘Salute the Teachers’ programme, which we hope will get off the ground by the coming academic year. Additionally all primary and secondary schools have been “encouraged and supported by the Ministry to develop their own school based staff development programme”, she said.
The Minister also commended the schools for the initiative they had shown in developing seminars that dealt with the performance gaps of their teachers.
The Ministry has also began to work on the implementation of site-based integrated teaching strategies and support materials. Mrs. Henry-Wilson noted that the teachers involved in this programme had been exposed to training in assessment strategies as well as how to interpret and use the results of assessments to guide future planning for instruction at the primary level.
A new literacy strategy titled ‘Language Experience Awareness” has also been developed to support the underlying principles of the Revised Primary Curriculum. “This is at the core of our targets to have 90 per cent of our methodologies through 30 identified pilot schools, this is one of the areas which we will need to examine to determine whether it should be cascaded through the entire primary system,” Minister Henry-Wilson noted.
She further noted that the identification of 15 pilot schools for instructional technology and the provision of training equipment and materials to enable the use of information technology (IT) in curriculum delivery. Some 19 of the 21 demonstration schools have received funds to develop best practices in collaboration with the teacher training colleges Minister Henry-Wilson further informed.

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