JIS News

National Literacy Coordinator, Laurel Brent-Harris, has asked that parents do their part in helping to raise national literacy levels.
Mrs. Brent-Harris says that this is necessary in order to broaden the scope of opportunities available to the children, in light of the worsening global economic crisis.
Speaking with JIS News recently, she said the literacy policy developed by the Ministry of Education, signals a new direction for the educational achievement of Jamaican students, and the country as a whole. She was quick to point out, however, that the results could not be optimised without the full support of parents.
“I think this is a most exciting, interesting time for the development of literacy in Jamaica. There’s an adage that says, literacy begins in the home and ends at the tomb, and it means that, from an early stage, parents have to start to think seriously about the literacy achievement of their children. The parents who can read, must read to their children. Let them see them reading, provide materials. I mean, even when you are buying gifts, consider something that the child can read and have fun with, or something he can manipulate and learn from,” she advised.
She said parents should make a deliberate effort to encourage children to perform well, motivate them to make maximum use of opportunities with which they are presented, in order to achieve their fullest potential. She further stated that they should ensure that their children’s physical and emotional needs are met, and involve themselves, totally, in the schooling process, as these factors will contribute to their success.
“The parents need to motivate the children; let them see that they can achieve. The days of calling a child dunce and an idiot, those days are over. We must see our children as little vessels that we can pour into and get them to learn. The parent might not have the technical skills, but just saying: Let me see what you did today? How was school today? Is the child attending school? Is there anything I can do? Does he have all the books he needs?”.
“Going in to find out, how the child is performing? Attending PTA, whether grade level or school PTA. Seeing that the child is healthy. Attending to the physical needs of the child, by providing the meals. See that he’s having a balanced diet. You know, all of these things come together,” she pointed out.
Mrs. Brent-Harris explained that the beginning reader was particularly impressionable, as he was at a most critical stage of his development, and much could be gained through early intervention. Parents, she insisted, needed to take the time out to foster this, through various interactive activities within the home, such as the labelling of items like the stove, cupboard, windows and doors.
The new literacy policy introduced by the Ministry of Education stipulates that every child who sits the Grade Four Literacy Test, must perform at the standard required for them to be ‘certified literate,’ before being allowed to do the Grade Six Achievement Test. Each candidate is allowed four opportunities to master the test, between the initial sitting in Grade Four and the time at which GSAT is administered. The new regulations also dictate that, like the GSAT, students must present birth certificates to be registered for the test, which will be conducted under strict examination conditions.

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