Reading is at the core of all development.

This was a key message sent yesterday by Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, at the opening of the 7th Annual Conference of the Barbados Association of Reading (BAR) at Crane Beach Resort in St. Philip.

The Minister, in delineating this concept, asked those gathered to consider where they would be if they were not literate and against the backdrop of today???s sophisticated world where commerce business, communication, technology and traversing the difficulties of banks, insurance companies and even supermarkets required reading even if this only related to labels.

???Just possibly consider where you would be???possibly at the very, very bottom of the totem pole, not being able to take decisions for yourselves, to read and to understand, to so engage the mind that you could make a worthwhile and valued contribution to the world,??? he said, adding that millions of people across the world including Barbados could not read.

Explaining that his Ministry, BAR and others had to give of their time and talents to help such persons, Mr. Jones stated: ???We have a duty of care as teachers, a duty of responsibility to ensure that every single child, as long as that child does not have physical and psychological defects that they are still able to read and develop some aspects of literacy.???

However, he pointed out that literacy really began in the home. ???Nothing begins in school??? it begins right in that place called home, right in the behaviours which are shown by our parents???it is almost as though it is a patterning behavior which starts to emerge even before birth; the voice of the mother and the father, of their siblings around reaching into the womb of the woman and words being implanted in that developing psyche, [and] mind.

???But, what becomes more evident is that as you merge and your senses start to unfold you are seeing the presence of literature in your home, seeing your father, though busy as he is… reading a bible or some other piece of literature,??? he declared.

Acknowledging that this curiosity was peaked even more at school, Mr. Jones said it added that basic understanding and further developed a child???s faculties, talents and abilities guiding him towards greater emphases on national development and the pursuit of a good quality of life. And, while he stressed that reading gave hope and opportunity, Mr. Jones appealed to teachers to strive to do better by inspiring children and their parents to read.

???If they can???t read, sometimes violence comes from them in their words and actions because they are circumscribed and when you are so circumscribed sometimes you react negatively,??? Mr. Jones said.

President of BAR and teacher, Sharon Warner, said the theme of the conference Literacy For All was not restricted to teachers of English.

Alluding to its impact on Mathematics and the ability to dissect and analyse problems, she said: ???We know that when calculations are placed with language and statements that that presents problems to many students. We want to reiterate the fact that being able to understand and unpack the meaning in Mathematics is also a concern for all.???

She further noted that literacy also related to social studies, history, science and catering to persons with learning disabilities.

The event also saw Chairman of Days Bookstore, and supporter of BAR, receiving the first ever Community Literacy Award for his ???significant contribution to literacy???.

The two-day conference which ends tomorrow is being held in conjunction with the International Reading Association.

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