KINGSTON — Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has appealed to corporate Jamaica to join his ministry in advancing the Enrichment Centre initiative, designed to improve literacy and numeracy in primary schools.
Digicel Foundation, a non-profit organisation established by telecommunications company, Digicel, has been collaborating with the Ministry since 2009 to launch Enrichment Centres in 12 primary schools.
The initiative involves selected schools identifying an ‘enrichment’ room on the premises, which the Foundation refurbishes and retrofits with technological software and hardware geared to improving literacy and numeracy.
Speaking at the launch of the Enrichment School of the Year competition, on Thursday at the Ministry, National Heroes Circle, Kingston, Mr. Holness said it was a “project in a package” that corporate sponsors could easily support.
“We don’t need to go and re-invent the wheel, we have already discovered it and packaged it, and it is just now on the shelf waiting to be bought by corporate sponsors,” he said.
He said he is very proud of the initiative,and pleased to be associated with it.
“The idea of supporting the improvement in performance is one that I support, wholeheartedly,” the Minister said. He added that the Ministry has set up 25
Enrichment Centres, adding greater value to instruction, than general education in classrooms.
“They incorporate technology (and) students learn according to their pace, with technology, and that’s very important,” he noted. He also stated that it was among the tools/aids and strategies making students’ learning experience far richer than in the classroom.
Mr. Holness said the initiative complemented the Ministry’s “pull out” strategy. He explained that, once teachers identify students who are not learning apace, or learning above pace, they can be pulled out and placed in a controlled, enriched environment serving their particular learning needs.
“We would like to see this in all our primary schools in Jamaica. Sadly, we don’t have the budget just yet to do that, but Digicel is helping us, in the meantime,” he noted.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Digicel, Mark Linehan, said the enrichment initiative has enjoyed many successes, with students who were performing way below the Grade Four level advancing to become outstanding students with great futures.
“This is quite an achievement, and we want to thank the teachers for their commitment and dedication to this programme, as we work together to improve the level of literacy and numeracy in primary schools across Jamaica,” he said.
He noted that the Enrichment School of the Year competition not only ensures that the initiative remains sustainable, but that the teachers are recognised and rewarded. The year-long competition will run from the start of the new academic year in September, to April 2012 and will include evaluation and assessment segments.
It is open to all schools with Enrichment Centres. Participating schools’ Grades Two to Four students must be included in the intervention programme offered by the centres. Each programme must have at least 30 students, with a minimum contact time of three sessions per week and a trained full-time Literacy teacher, under the Enrichment Initiative curriculum.
Prizes will be awarded for overall best-performing school, most improved school in literacy, top teacher, top parent and top student, among others. Top performing schools will receive a trophy and $460,000, to assist with an away-day for the students in the programme; a school project plan; and gift certificates for educational material for the enrichment room.
By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter