Success in school is somewhat determined by a student’s ability to read. Education experts all across the globe say that the best opportunity to teach children the skills of reading is in the early grades (grades K–3). If this window is missed, then children, who have not begun to read and understand what they read, will continue to fall behind unless swift action is taken. This is the backdrop against which the OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme (ELP) is being implemented in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
Following successful implementation of the ELP in 18 pilot schools, forty (40) additional primary institutions are now being embraced in phase II of the implementation process.
By January 2018, scores of ELP target teachers would have been equipped with the following:
An understanding of the background and rationale for the ELP
Enhanced ability to provide support and mentorship to other teachers
Increased ability to write outcomes, based on curricula, that reflect a deep understanding of pedagogically sound and high quality literacy learning that supports diverse readers
Improved ability to draw on a repertoire of instructional approaches and a variety of teaching strategies
More anxiety to lead literacy education in the classroom, with an emphasis on reading
Greater ability to design, deliver and monitor effective literacy learning that uses constructivist based, learner-centred pedagogy
Boosted ability to coach teachers using a model which includes immersion in quality literacy learning, demonstrating high quality literacy teaching and strategies and coaching that leads to independent use both in workshop and individual sessions
Teachers involved in phase II of the programme at the P.D session, Girl Guides Headquarters
Since reading undergirds the entire learning experience for a child, it needs to be the foundation of any education enterprise. In recognition of this, the ELP is designed to improve the reading achievement levels of all learners at the early primary level (grades K-3) in the six (6) independent member states of the OECS. In SVG, the statistics for the period 2013-2015 show that just over 60% of students exiting the primary cycle, read at or above the grade 6 level. The ELP is based on the premise that students can achieve substantially higher if their reading attainment level is improved.
Mavis Joseph - ELP Focal Point
Education Officer for Language, Literacy and Communication in the Ministry of Education, Mavis Joseph, serves as the ELP focal point in SVG. She is supported by a team of teachers who act as ELP coordinators. They are Veronica Cain, Noreen Ferguson, Edmira Walker, Gaylene Wickham, Fitzroy Stapleton and Hassan Wickham. The primary duties of the coordinators are to train, coach and observe classroom practices of teachers in the target grades and to assist with curriculum enhancement.