Reading on their minds: Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, in discussion with some of the children of the Grantley Prescod Primary School after the launch of the Book Club.

A Government Minister wants to see more communities across Barbados play a meaningful role in assisting those families that need help in improving their reading skills.

Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, said there were some children who could not learn to read from their parents, even though Barbados supposedly has a very high literacy rate.??

???I have met very many young parents ??? 19, 20, 25 – who cannot read and therefore cannot enjoy reading to their children, and that is a very sad thing???

???Ideally, parents should teach their children to read, but as I have said, I???ve seen so many parents who cannot teach their children and so this is where the community should come in. The community must see itself as part of the extended family for those children and take on the responsibility,??? she underscored.

Dr. Byer Suckoo made the comments today at the launch of the Grantley Prescod Primary School???s Reading Club, which has been set up in partnership with the social work students of the University of the West Indies. The club has been established to stimulate an interest in reading through various interactive and innovative methods.??????????

She pointed out that some Government Ministries were trying to encourage communities to start similar programmes which would benefit the children and their parents. ???I also want to encourage communities to start Homework Clubs to assist those families who cannot help their children with home work because they don???t have the time or don???t know how??? No one parent has all the skills, the time and all the energy to provide everything that a child needs, and it is important for communities to come together and do things like this,??? she stressed.

Minister Byer Suckoo opined that reading ???has too often become a punishment???, explaining that when parents felt children had watched too much television or were too boisterous they were usually banished to their room and told ???go read a book???.

The Minister congratulated the social work students for developing the club, saying it was a worthwhile venture, which, once successful, its effects would be long- lasting. She stressed that for the book club to be sustained those involved must create and stimulate a joy for reading in the children.

She urged the children to take advantage of the services offered by the Public Library.

Education Officer for Reading in the Ministry of Education, Christine Morris, in supporting the Minister???s sentiments, proffered the view that the task of creating a nation of readers and thinkers ???lies with everyone in the society, including the parents???.

Mrs. Morris said: ???They need to provide the children with a variety of reading material, read to and with them, foster a culture of reading in the home and demonstrate to the children that reading is important, even for the simplest of things. Parents must also let their children know that reading and learning in general are highly valued and that they are expected to perform well.???

She added that school had an equal responsibility to ensure that children were taught the skills necessary for learning how to read. According to her, from an early stage, teachers had a critical role to play in developing the children???s literacy skills by using available resources, coupled with their knowledge and teaching techniques.

The Education Officer also stressed that ???children need to be self-motivated, they need to pay rapt attention at school, they need to make opportunities to read regularly about topics that are of interest to them and they need to take some responsibility for their own learning???.

Mrs. Morris noted that over the years stakeholders in education had been lamenting the fact that many children were unable and reluctant to read and it had led to many students leaving school with very basic or no certification, in some cases.


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