Dire Need To Improve Literacy Rates, Minister Says

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Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Patrick Todd (fourth from left), poses with some of the facilitators of the workshop on reading. From left are Liesl Zitman, Karena Thompson, Citronella Scott and Darcy Husbands.

Recent data collected by the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development indicate that many Barbadian children still face the very real possibility of entering adulthood as functional illiterates.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Patrick Todd, made this admission today during the opening ceremony of a reading workshop entitled "Using Deep Comprehension Strategy Instruction to Create Great Readers and Lifelong Learners," in the main Conference Room of the Ministry.

According to him, this downward spiral must be reversed if Barbados is to compete on the world stage and Barbadians are to enjoy a satisfactory quality of life.?? "…I believe the answer is simple, address the problem in its infancy, that is, in our primary schools," he said.

The Minister encouraged teachers at the seminar to be mindful of the benefits of reading and encouraged them to focus their attentions on the process of reading, rather than solely on its product.?? "By raising students’ awareness of reading as a skill that requires active engagement, and by explicitly teaching reading strategies, you can help your students to develop both the ability and the confidence to be proficient readers," he advised.

Mr. Todd added that the Ministry of Education must operate on the premise that "every teacher is a teacher of reading" and seriously consider the development of a programme for orienting all tutors to the requirements for achieving reading success across the curriculum. He also opined that educators needed to be equipped with the skills to diagnose students’ difficulties, plan appropriate programmes and deliver them to their individual classrooms.

Deputy Chief Education Officer, Dr. Idamay Denny, also spoke at the opening of the reading workshop.?? She too expressed concern at some decline in the literacy rate on the island which "once stood at 95 percent and was something to be proud of".

She thanked those teachers who took time out from their vacation to attend the sessions, noting that the information to be gained would be very useful in the classroom.?? Dr. Denny further encouraged teachers to share the information gained with their colleagues at their respective schools.

Over 30 teachers from primary schools across the island are attending the workshop, which was organized by the Ministry in collaboration with the Granville T. Woods Elementary School in Brooklyn, New York. Facilitators are Citronella Scott, Eurika Oliver, Karena Thompson, Liesl Zitman and Darcy Husbands. It ends on Thursday, July 30.??

kmoore@barbados.gov.bb

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