• JIS News

    The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, yesterday (February 19), launched the ‘Reading the Bottomline’ project, at the St. Michael’s Primary School in Kingston.
    This initiative seeks to increase the literacy level of students at the primary school level.The project was also launched simultaneously in four other schools in Kingston and St. Andrew and one in St. Mary. They are the St. Anne’s Primary, John Mills Primary and Junior High, Greenwich Primary and Maxfield Park Primary in Kingston, and Epsom Primary in St. Mary.
    Wife of the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Most Hon. Lady Rheima Holding-Hall, and the Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, took part in the launch at St. Michael’s, by reading to the students of grades one and four, respectively. The project was launched at St. Anne’s by Mrs. Lorna Golding, wife of the Prime Minister.
    The programme is in partnership with the Expanding Educational Horizons (EEH) project, put in place with the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which focuses on enhancing teaching methods to promote child-centred learning for improved results in literacy and numeracy.
    Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PSOJ, Sandra Glasgow, said that the ‘Reading the Bottomline’ project is one of the major programmes of the organisation’s Education Committee. “The idea is that our member companies will adopt primary schools that are part of the project and will have their CEOs and their staff come to the schools regularly to read to the students,” she said.
    “After this, we’ll just be working quietly with the schools to ensure that children understand the importance of reading and that they have role models that can encourage them to read more. The companies will also be donating books to the libraries of the schools and we are working very closely with the Ministry of Education on this,” Mrs. Glasgow said.
    Meanwhile, Minister Holness lauded the PSOJ for the move, adding that he was grateful to the PSOJ for organising such an exercise. “It coincides very well with our national goal of 100 per cent literacy at grade four,” he said.
    The Minister said that the emphasis should now be on teaching literacy, that is, “to have teachers understand how to teach children to read and write, comprehend, and of course numeracy is equally important. It cannot be that we turn our children out of the primary school system without having that final level of education.”
    Deeming some students as having ‘multiple intelligences,’ meaning there are some students who learn in different ways, Mr. Holness said that, “it is not our intention to deprive those students of developing their other innate skills, but we are saying that every child can learn, and every child must learn.”
    “So, if it means that we have to adjust our teaching methods in order to suit the learning patterns of the children we have in our classrooms, then that is what we have to do. In the world that these children will know in 20 years, they will not be able to articulate themselves in society without being able to read and write. In effect, if they are illiterate they will remain poor,” he said.
    The Minister also pointed out that a grade four literacy test will be nationalized this year. “This essentially means that the grade four test will be your literacy test. It is what will certify that you are now able to read and write and that you have developed the basics upon which you can further build,” he added.
    Principal of the St. Michael’s Primary School, Easton Seaton, admitted that while literacy is a burning issue, there are outside factors that can influence students’ literacy levels, such as lack of parental supervision and support, the unavailability of books and other material they may need.
    He commended the Ministry of Education in its efforts to deal with the problem of the low literacy and numeracy levels of primary school children.”I think literacy is something that is very important in today’s 21st Century and the Ministry (of Education) itself has launched a number of programmes, one of which is ‘Literacy 123’ and as the name suggests, it is focusing on grades 1, 2 and 3. The idea behind this is that if we can get the grades 1, 2 and 3 to its optimum in terms of reading, then the other problems that might occur in the upper grades would have more or less been solved, and that is where a great emphasis is being placed at this time,” Mr. Seaton said.

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