Students today need to learn and practise a whole set of complex reading, writing and language skills to handle the variety of texts they will encounter and produce in the transition from school to the world of work.

This view was expressed recently by Sharon Warner, Vice President of the Barbados Association of Reading (BAR), as she addressed the opening ceremony of the Eighth Annual Conference of that association under the theme: Literacy Across the Curriculum, at Accra Beach Resort.

???Reading and writing proficiency is a key to success in higher education and in the workplace. The transition over the last decade to an information-centred economy guarantees that the greatest rewards will go financially and personally to those who communicate effectively.??There are few jobs, and almost no high paying ones, not requiring proficiency in reading for understanding and communicating clearly, orally in writing.

Ms. Warner, a tutor at Erdiston Teachers??? Training College, told teachers and principals gathered that advances in technology had added more pressure and everyone today must learn new ways to read.

She observed: ???Billboards now change messages as we drive. Internet reading requires new skills for manoeuvering around a jungle of information and for manipulating it to suit an array of needs. We now rely on more tools in our homes and our workplaces and the literacy demands they impose are far more complex than in the past. And, this is so for our primary and secondary students.???

The tutor said there was also a relationship between literacy and mathematics results. She said studies showed reading ability rather than language proficiency in English emerged as a strong predictor of mathematics achievement; that difficulties in arithmetic were associated with reading ability development; and that children with learning disabilities had shown that difficulties in reading and in math often co-occur.

The opening ceremony also saw the Caribbean Dyslexia Association and Centre receiving the BAR???s Community Literacy Award for 20 years of service to persons with dyslexia in the region. The Centre, among other things, assists students to manage this learning disability, promote training of teachers and parents and raises awareness of the condition.

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