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Feb 19, 2018

Reading Still Fundamental: MoE Makes Literacy ‘National Priority’

A major literacy strategy was launched this morning at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex in Belize City. The program aims to strengthen the reading and writing skills of primary school children in nine Belize City schools in the first phase. According to the Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, the ministry is stepping up with the use of technology to engage students to become more interested in literacy and numeracy. News Five’s Duane Moody has the following report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Today, the Ministry of Education launched “Literacy as a National Priority,” under the theme: Literacy – an essential skill for social participation. It’s re-energizing the ministry’s mandate, which will ensure that children are reading at their respective grade levels. The ministry piloted the strategy back in September of 2017 within nine Belize City schools, whose teachers today displayed innovative teaching strategies to engage young minds, using technology and non-traditional techniques. Chief Education Officer, Doctor Carol Babb says that individualized learning and the transformation of classrooms are among several things being done to encourage reading.

 

Carol Babb

Dr. Carol Babb, Chief Education Officer

“National examinations consistently show that an estimated twenty-five percent of our schools have a history of low performance. Low performing schools are more likely to have a high number of students that are disengaged; many of our students are disengaged because of their inability to read and write well. Literacy is the basis for all forms of learning and many of our students are not reading at their grade level and this creates a number of issues in the classroom.”

 

Rose Bradley

Dr. Rose Bradley, Ministry of Education

“School improvement planning with an emphasis on improving student’s reading performance. In the initial stage, the focus is on the lower grades with the intent to establish a strong reading foundation geared towards the development of critical reading skills, creative writing and the use of reading and writing as learning tools.”

 

Minister of Education Patrick Faber says that while the ministry has recommitted to prioritizing literacy and numeracy, all stakeholders including teachers, parents, the community and the media must play their role. This is needed for the future development of the youth and the country.

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“It is probably the most important aspect of our work in the Ministry of Education. If our children are not reading, then we might as well lock up shop for everything else that we are trying to achieve in terms of education. And so you are right Duane; this requires the teachers to be onboard, it requires the parents to be onboard, it requires the leadership of the schools to be onboard and it requires the participation of the wider population.”

 

Among the many partners are UNICEF, and Peace Corps. Gregory Macdonald says that they been working with the Ministry of Education since 2014, but a formal agreement was penned back in 2017 to assist in early childhood literacy. Together, a diagnostic test was developed, evaluated and the requisite intervention measures were established to assess the level of literacy for students.

 

Gregory Macdonald

Gregory Macdonald, Peace Corps

“Last year in June, Peace Corps and the Ministry of Education signed a formal agreement to work on early childhood literacy. And the agreement is to do that through Peace Corps Response. Peace Corps Response is a program through Peace Corps that provides highly skilled volunteers to work on short-term high impact projects. We welcomed the first group of Response volunteers last year and they had a combined professional experience of about one hundred and twenty years. They worked very hard for five months alongside equally talented literacy team of officers to develop, pilot and evaluate literacy screening and intervention tool kit to be used by standard-one teachers.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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