JIS News

National Literacy Coordinator, Laurel Brent-Harris, has said the recent Literacy trend has been encouraging, as there has been evidence of improvement based on the results of the Grade 4 Literacy Test.
“Over the past 8 years or so, we have noticed gradual improvement in the students’performance in literacy. For example, in 2000, 47 per cent of our students were achieving mastery in the Grade 4 Literacy Test, which is used as the benchmark or measure of literacy. In 2004, we moved up to 57 per cent, 2006 we were at 65 per cent. In 2008, we were at 71 per cent at the first sitting, and 81 per cent after the second test,” Mrs. Brent-Harris told the JIS in an interview.
She attributed this to several factors, including a heightened awareness among school leaders and parents, who are becoming increasingly concerned about their role in aiding the process.
“I think the improvement in the students’ performance is due to a number of factors. No one group can take credit for what happens. I think there is a heightened awareness of the importance of literacy, and parents are now asking questions about what they can do, and there are groups that are meeting and sharing strategies for parental involvement in their children’s achievement,” she said.
“Also, the Ministry of Education has a number of literacy specialists employed to low-performing schools and, in all six regions, we have noticed a 5 to 11 per cent improvement in the performance of students on the Grade 4 Literacy Test over a 2-year period,” she said.
“Another thing that we have to take into consideration, is that school leaders – principals, vice principals, senior members of staff – have now recognized their role and the level of responsibility for the students who come into their care. The whole matter of accountability has reached to the heart of many of these leaders in the school system and, even when we call a workshop or a meeting to discuss literacy concerns, based on the kinds of responses, I think everybody now recognizes that, if the nation is going to be developed, if we are going to achieve our goal of education for all, everybody has to come on board,” Mrs. Brent-Harris added.
She remarked that it was heartening to note that many students have demonstrated a desire to learn, and the Ministry have recognized the need to create a child-friendly learning environment, in order to optimize results.
“The students themselves, in many discussions, we realize that they want to achieve and we are telling them that they too need to take responsibility for their achievement in literacy. We have identified, on a wider scale, material that children would want to read, we have put in place a number of ICT technologies that students can use to help them in understanding some of the concepts – the hands-on, the manipulatives that they need to make the literacy learning environment more interesting and student-friendly,” she pointed out.
“When you put it all together in one package, if everybody comes together, and with this new thrust and the kind of commitment from the Ministry of Education, the kind of consciousness from key stakeholders, we know that we are going to achieve our objective of 100 per cent of all educable students achieving mastery in our national literacy test,” she concluded.
She said that the objective of optimal literacy results under the new literacy policy could not be realized, however, unless all stakeholders continued to work assiduously towards this end.
“The over-arching goal of this national literacy thrust is to raise students’ level of achievement in literacy, and the Ministry of Education has put in place a number of strategies in order to achieve full literacy for our primary school students, and we are looking at several activities across the island to sensitize the principals, other key stakeholders like parents and community leaders as to what our thrust entails, and how they can participate in helping us to achieve our goal,” she said.

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