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The drive by the Ministry of Education (Region 4), to achieve 100 per cent literacy by the year 2015 in St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland, has received strong backing from key stakeholders, including the students.

While the success of the plan is heavily dependent on the efforts of officers at the Ministry, who will be using different reading methods at schools under their supervision, it also calls for support from parents to encourage their children to read.

Several students tell JIS News that they welcome the initiative, dubbed Read Until Something Happens (RUSH).

Student at the St. James-based Bogue Hill All Age School, Roxene Tucker, says through the programme they will achieve their goals, “and as Fredrick Douglas said, ‘once you learn to read you are forever free’.”

“This programme teaches you all about reading, and we get to have fun. And, people should read because it can build their vocabulary,” she notes.

Another student at the school, Marteno Martin, tells JIS News that, “you will get a greater feel of imagination from reading, and it can spark creativity.”

“I like this programme because it is fun, it teaches people to read, and all the students will enjoy the programme,” he said.

Meanwhile, Arianna Williams of Retrieve All Age School, tells JIS News that literacy is essential for life-long success. “If you read, it can bring you anywhere through the world, you can get a proper job, and you can be something good in life,” she says.

Regional Director at the Ministry of Education, Hilary Foster, outlined at the recent launch, held at the Montego Bay Community College, in St. James, that the overarching objectives of the programme are: raising the level of literacy awareness, fostering greater participation within and among schools, strengthening the intrinsic relationship among the home, school and the wider community.

“Let us collectively work together to achieve this strategic objective of the Ministry of Education – the attainment of 100 per cent literacy by all students by 2015 – as we read and read until we achieve our ultimate goal,” the Regional Director told the audience.

The Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), has given its support for the initiative, declaring through its member, Yvonne Gordon, that it would result in a “better” life for many.

“The RUSH programme is destined to make that marked difference. It is here to tell persons that there is hope, and it will be able to guide many individuals into a better life. The Jamaica Teachers’ Association commends you for this effort,” she says.

For her part, Vice Principal at the Montego Bay Community College, Novelette Forbes, said that, “we are very supportive, and continue to encourage you with this very meaningful initiative which will impact the lives of our young children.”

Support has also come from the business community, with First Vice President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gloria Henry, describing the initiative as “timely and noble” and pledged to support it.

“These are all noble objectives that we all should embrace, and we at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry stand ready to assist this initiative. We will assist wherever possible,” she says.

“I believe that this initiative is one such area that you can utilize the private- public partnership system to achieve greater success, and I want to encourage the young people to take a book wherever you go and continue to read to support your own development. We feel confident that this reading programme will certainly aid your development,” she adds.

Principal of the Hanover-based Marland All Age School,Andria Dehaney-Dinham, sees the initiative as geared towards nation-building.

“I believe that the RUSH programme is a welcomed initiative at this time. Reading is always the most important thing that any child can actually do, and as we get our students to read from an early age, the ‘sky is the limit’. And, as we Read Until Something Happens, our nation will be a better place, this world will be a better place, since reading is the foundation for everything else that occurs in our lives,” she says.

For his part, Principal of the Belmont Academy, in Westmoreland, Rayon Simpson, said he endorses the programme, “because it is an initiative to stimulate the sensibility of all the children from early childhood straight through secondary school.”

Meanwhile, Patron of RUSH, Marlene Stephenson-Dalley, points out that the objectives will be achieved through partnerships, and that she is delighted to play her part.

“I do believe we have the collective will to make it happen. It is a challenge, but it is a challenge that we are up to, and I am delighted about this initiative, and pledge to do whatever I can to assist the process, and to make sure that we achieve those targets,” she told the launching ceremony.

On pages 57 to 58 of the Vision 2030 Jamaica National Development Plan, it states that: “Under Vision 2030 Jamaica, our country will develop an education and training system that produces well-rounded and qualified individuals who will be empowered to learn for life, able to function as creative and productive individuals in all spheres of our society, and be competitive in a global context. Our literacy rate for those over 15 years old will exceed 98 per cent.”

Contact: Garfield Angus