Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Public Affairs, Senator Lucille Moe, has urged parents to embrace technology to help foster a love for reading in their children.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for Babb’s Reading Clinic for at-risk boys at the Barbados Community College this morning, Senator Moe emphasized that the advent of the Information Age had changed the way children absorbed knowledge.
The senator reinforced the point that it was not so much what they were using to read, but the fact that they were reading, that was important. The annual summer reading clinic runs from July 15 to August 15, and will cater to 70 boys who are transitioning from primary to secondary school.
“Years ago, if you wanted to know something, you would go and get a dictionary. Now, if you want to know something, people tell you to go ‘Google it’. Most people now, when you go to their homes, they have gadgets. Gadgets are the way of the world and they are a major influence on how young people absorb information. So, you have to be cognizant of that,” the Information Minister said, adding that many young people gained their knowledge from tweets, photographs and other posts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp.
The minister acknowledged that these platforms were slowly replacing many of the traditional modes of information gathering.
“This is what people do nowadays when they read,” she said, holding up her iPad, “but it could’ve been a tablet, cellphone, Kindle or an e-reader or any electronic device that people use to read. We all know that these are the preferred modes and modalities that are used by the younger generation when reading. And so, we must embrace it.”
Senator Moe, encouraged the young participants to read anything and everything because reading was a “skill for life”.
Coordinator of the clinic and BCC Tutor, Dr. Astra Babb, said the clinic was free for the boys who were “challenged by their limited ability to read at the expected grade level”. The BCC is providing the space for the clinic, rent-free.
“The boys here, this morning, are from primary schools all over Barbados, so the problem relating to some children’s inability to read at the expected grade level permeates our education system,” she noted.
Dr. Babb pointed out that catering to boys was necessary because they were the ones falling through the cracks.
She added that empirical evidence showed that of the four major tertiary level institutions in Barbados, only one had more males than females enrolled – the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology.
“On the other hand, there are more males, by far, in our prison system than females. Why is that?” she stated. Dr. Babb explained that Babb’s Reading Clinic would instruct boys in word attack skills, using phonemic awareness exercises as well as structural analysis and comprehension strategies.
“We will encourage them to read without feeling embarrassed. We need our boys to be avid readers, creative thinkers, and eventually, strong men who make wise decisions.
“The reading clinic will provide counselling for those boys who need it, and the Barbados Defence Force will provide team building opportunities for the boys,” Dr. Babb said.
She also appealed for more sponsorship since there were another 20 boys who were on a waiting list to join the clinic.