The Ministry of Education’s (MOE) thrust towards achieving 100 per cent literacy at the primary school level by 2015 was boosted Wednesday (September 16), with the opening of an Enrichment Centre at the Lyssons Primary School, St Thomas.
The Centre was established through the Enrichment Centre Initiative, a partnership between the Ministry and the Digicel Foundation. It is now one of 13 such centres established under the programme.
Enrichment Centres are resource rooms with computers, interactive whiteboards, literacy and numeracy software and other teaching aids. The Digicel Foundation also facilitated training of resource room teachers, in the use of the equipment and various teaching aids.
Speaking at the official launch of the initiative Wednesday, Education Minister, the Hon Andrew Holness, said the Ministry decided to partner with Digicel, because the project was well aligned with the Ministry’s targets. He said that the project provided support for students at all points along the learning spectrum.
Minister of Education, Hon Andrew Holness (second left), admiring a mural painted outside the Lyssons Primary School’s Enrichment Centre, St Thomas, with (left to right): Member of Parliament for St Thomas Eastern, Dr. Fenton Ferguson; Chairman of Digicel Foundation, Lisa Lewis; and Principal of Lyssons Primary, Ena Barclay. The occasion was Wednesday’s (September 16) opening of the Centre, which was established under a partnership between the Digicel Foundation and the Ministry of Education.
Mr. Holness also stated that, apart from addressing learning disabilities and focusing on literacy and numeracy, the project also deals with students who are special, in the sense that they are exceptional, “because we tend to forget that we have exceptional students in our population, as well, and they too need not just support, but they need to be challenged.
“Every student must be included in the education system. Every principal, every teacher must make accommodation for all the students they can. We have no option, we have no choice,” he declared.
Digicel Foundation has spent $33.6 million establishing Enrichment Centres in 12 schools: Lyssons Pimary, Waterford Primary, Franklyn Town Primary, Balaclava Primary, Victoria Town All-Age, Cave Hill Primary, Drapers Hill All-Age, Melrose Primary and Junior High, New Hope Primary, Moneague Primary and Junior, St. Ann’s Primary and Spanish Town Primary. Spanish Town Primary has received two centres.
Special Education Coordinator for the Education Transformation Project, Dr. Michele Meredith-Dobbs, said the schools were chosen from among the 30 which received 30 per cent or less mastery in the Grade Four Literacy Test, between 2006 and 2008.
Minister of Education, Hon Andrew Holness (seated left), observes as grade six student at Lyssons Primary School, Emmanuel Wilson (also seated), demonstrating the use of one of several learning tools in the school’s Enrichment Centre, which was opened on Wednesday (September 16). The Centre is aimed at combating underperformance, through a partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Digicel Foundation. Looking on are (left to right): Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Audrey Sewell; Member of Parliament for St Thomas Eastern, Dr. Fenton Ferguson; Chairman of Digicel Foundation, Lisa Lewis; and Special Education Teacher at the Lyssons Primary School, Rebecca Minott.
She explained that a monitoring system has been set up to ensure that the Centres stick to their mandate. Additionally, she outlined that there would be screening of students referred to the Centres.
“We want to eliminate the whole business of students being dumped. If they are not performing well, send them to the resource room; if they are giving trouble in class, send them to the resource room. We want to have a more meaningful approach to how we are going to meet the literacy targets, how we are going to eradicate the issue of underperformance and how we are going to eliminate the matter of poor behaviour in our schools,” she explained.
Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation, Major General Robert Neish, said that the initiative would be assessed through an incentive programme. The Digicel Foundation will provide prizes for students, teachers and parents who contribute to the success of each Centre.
Major General Neish also encouraged other private sector entities, who might be interested in replicating the project in other schools, to do so.
“All of it is a package, and we invite other private sector organisations to take part in it, to participate in it, to go to the Ministry and say ‘My school in so and so wants to have a resource room and my company is prepared to contribute towards it’,” he suggested.