Minister of Youth, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, presenting books to Simeon Morris and Deshaniqua Worrell of Workman’s Primary, while teacher Lana Wood-Thompson (left) and Principal Anthea Newton-Gadsby look on.

A group of Class Three students have been reminded that they can determine how their lives will be if they take advantage of Barbados’ education system.

This reminder has come from Minister of Youth, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who told the children that they could "go upward and onward" with education, or "down and out" without it.

She made the comments today during the launch of "Building A Nation of Readers" Project at the Valley Resource Centre, St. George. Four St. George-based primary schools, Cuthbert Moore, St. George, St. Jude’s and Workman’s, will participate in the project, which will be conducted one evening weekly.

Dr. Byer Suckoo continued: "The Government of Barbados spends millions of dollars to educate students from the primary to the tertiary level, so that you can contribute to our society. Barbados is doing well today because of our educated people."

??She explained that the project was conceptualised by Youth Commissioner Carolyn Garnes and its objectives included creating a community of readers, demonstrating the importance and fun of reading and developing basic research and documentation skills. She added that the children would have an opportunity to expand their vocabulary by engaging in junior scrabble games periodically, as well as visiting the library, Archives, the Barbados Museum and other locations identified for their research assignments.

"This project will enable you to enjoy knowledge and information which I am sure will broaden your horizons, increase your opportunities and lead to a successful life… This project will also assist in your communication skills and your ability to reason. These help with understanding each other clearly, and avoiding – even resolving – conflict," she said.

The Minister told the approximately 120 children that as they learnt the value of books and education, she hoped they would also understand the importance of furniture, computer and other equipment and materials which were funded by their parents and other tax payers. "When you destroy them, they have to be replaced. When Government spends money to replace them, another area that is important to national development will suffer," she lamented.

Dr. Byer Suckoo lauded retired Principal, Loretta Whitehall, and remedial teacher, Sonia Wickham, for volunteering their time and skills to assist with the project.

Youth Commissioner, Carolyn Garnes, pointed out that all students did not develop at the same level and noted that phonics sets would be used to give them additional help so they could reach the same levels as their peers.

"There are some of our youth, who, on leaving school, still cannot read properly and these are some of the persons who, not being able to comprehend simple things, will engage in anti-social behaviours and create problems in our society," Ms. Garnes stated.

Cloister Bookstore donated some of the books for the project, which included "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", "A Tropical Holiday", "Aesop’s Fables" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".

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