JIS: The Enrichment Initiative, which seeks to achieve 100 per cent literacy among primary-school students, has been handed over fully to the Ministry of Education.
The project was initiated in 2009 by the Education Ministry and the Digicel Foundation, which provided funding. In 2013, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) came on board with more funding.
Through the initiative, Jamaica’s literacy rate at the grade-four level reached 86.5 per cent in 2016, exceeding the ministry’s target of 85 per cent.
The programme was handed over to the ministry on Wednesday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston.
Keynote speaker at the event, State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Floyd Green, said every effort will be made to ensure the continued success of the programme, which has impacted more than 43,000 students from 104 primary schools across the island, so far, who have shown marked improvement in reading and mathematics skills since the programme’s commencement.
Green said the initiative has had a significant impact on the primary-level education sector, showing student improvement from 23 per cent to 42 per cent in some schools, after two years of programme intervention.
“We at the ministry are pleased at what has been achieved. We have established a number of enrichment centres and 61 mobile enrichment carts. (Participating) schools have been resourced with 258 computers and laptops with educational software. The project included comprehensive training for over 190 teachers in the development areas of literacy, numeracy, special needs and gender strategies,” he informed.
He added that more than 60 principals were trained in effective school management, and an enrichment management familiarisation and training manual was developed for schools.
Also, a two-year summer intervention programme targeting 1,086 grade-one students who showed weak advancements in literacy was held.
Importantly, 450 information sessions were held with more than 6,000 parents and guardians to incorporate the parent/guardian as an important stakeholder in the development of underperforming children.
In her remarks at the ceremony, USAID Mission Director, Maura Barry-Boyle said the collective efforts of the Ministry of Education, the USAID and the Digicel Foundation have successfully improved the early-grade reading skills of hundreds of children and enhanced the parental information necessary to secure a sound education for Jamaica’s future generations.
“USAID, together with the ministry and the Digicel Foundation formalised an arrangement to improve literacy at the primary-school level. We did this because we recognise this as a critical means through which Jamaica’s prosperity will be secured,” she said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Digicel Foundation, Jean Lowrie-Chin, said the four- year project has yielded great success in the improved literacy levels of the students, and thanked the various stakeholders for their unwavering and enthusiastic support of the project.
CAPTION: State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green (right), in discussion with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director, Maura Barry-Boyle (left) and Chairman of the Digicel Foundation, Jean Lowrie-Chin, during the handing over of the Enrichment Initiative to the Education Ministry on Wednesday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston. The programme seeks to improve literacy in all primary schools.