Senior Teacher from the Eden Lodge Nursery School, Ruth Cumberbatch (second right) demonstrating to Minister of Education and Human Resource Development , Ronald Jones (left) how reading is taught to children aged zero to five. Looking on is President of the Kiwanis Club of Bridgetown, George Russell (centre) and?? Senior Teacher from St. Boniface Nursery School, Clytie Vaughan (right). (G. Brewster/BGIS)
The Eden Lodge and St. Boniface Nursery Schools today received a boost to their reading programme thanks to the Kiwanis Club of Bridgetown.??
They are the first beneficiaries of a selection of books for children from the Club’s Young Children Priority One (YCPO) and a cheque to aid in the further development of literacy among the students – a gesture welcomed by the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.
Distinguished Lieutenant Governor of the Kiwanis Club of Bridgetown and Chairman of the YCPO, Lennox Prescod, in addressing the handover ceremony at the Elsie Payne Complex, said the YCPO’s initiative was aimed at "addressing the needs of children between ages zero to five and a little beyond that".
Explaining that the Club would also embark on a reading programme at these schools, Mr. Prescod said they would be ably assisted by ???friends of Kiwanis’ – volunteers who include casts of Laff It Off reading to children in the nursery schools for one hour each week.??
Adding that a library for parents of the Nursery School at Eden Lodge would also be augmented, he said: "They have asked us and we have come through with [their] request in providing books and magazines for parents… The idea is to get parents to borrow the books, go home and read [them] so that the children can see them reading and, therefore, create an environment where they appreciate the value of reading."
He further noted that St. Boniface would be taken care of in like manner since that school was also considering developing a library.
The Chairman of the YCPO, assured Ministry personnel that if the programme worked out well it would be "spread to the other nursery schools" with the assistance of the five other Kiwanis clubs across Barbados. "The whole idea is to get children to read more and parents to read along with children to create that value," said Mr. Prescod said.
Education Minister, Ronald Jones, in his response, said these kinds of initiatives were endorsed because all individuals in the wider community were partners in education and stakeholders in the product called education. He noted: "When they are able to come forward with these kinds of gestures they should not be frustrated or denied. So, we see ourselves as facilitators…"
Noting that it augured well for early literacy development in our youngsters, Minister Jones told the Kiwanis representatives, "When you get the opportunity in the hour you set aside each week…to read to those young people you will actually see how bright they are. Three-year olds and four year olds are really great sparks in the educational system of Barbados…
"Giving them the excitement, the urge to read, to learn and to have conversation with you, you will realise that our little people have so much in them – so much capacity, intellectual capacity to be fully realised. As we watch them grow over the coming years we would realise that this type of investment would pay off along with the kinds of investment put in place by the State – the people who pay their taxes to ensure that there is still free education in Barbados from the nursery right through to the tertiary level of our education."
Minister Jones urged the Kiwanis to ensure the sustainability of the programme and said: "We want to see a continuing process of engagement when one comes with these programmes. So, we have supported this and, therefore, we look forward to your total commitment over time in reaching out to our young people."
Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer, Laurie King, in supporting the initiative, said it was in sync with the National Reading Policy which called for the Ministry "to embrace all stakeholders with a view to ensuring that every child leaves school and would be in a position to decode words and extract meanings from the words".
"This initiative should go a long way towards helping us to realise that objective because I looked at some of the text and it appears to be reading material that some of the students would be able to identify with," Mr. King said.