Ministry of Education still working to build literacy levels among students
A Student of the LGS reading to elders of the community
March 19, 2024
Ministry of Education still working to build literacy levels among students

In February 2020, the Brighton Methodist School reopened its library, aimed at boosting literacy rates, as only 24% of students at the time were reading at their age level.

The introduction of new books was also aimed at enhancing research skills. Additionally, in 2021, digital literacy programmes were introduced to improve e-learning participation and critical thinking skills as the low literacy rate prompted persons to voice their opinions including in letters to SEARCHLIGHT.

The Brighton school was one of many which introduced or re-introduced libraries to encourage reading among students with a view to help boost reading and overall levels of literacy among students.

Gaymes Book Centre had partnered with Mac Millan to host National Family Literacy Month, which was held in November 2021, and featured island-wide activities promoting reading and learning.

Asif Collin Dover, a member of the Language, Literacy and Communication Department in the Ministry of Education told SEARCHLIGHT that no study was done to determine the impact of this island-wide initiative.

“However, I can say that those were done to create an awareness, not only in reading but all things literacy.”

Dover said that during his six years in the department he has noticed a decrease in the literacy levels in students, however, the ministry has recently implemented different initiatives to help improve levels of literacy which Dover said is “quite broad” as literacy encompasses other components- reading, writing, spelling and communication.

Reading, however, is a crucial area for the Ministry of Education and the Curriculum Development Unit, and officers under the Language and Literacy Department have made attempts at improving students’ reading levels.

“Though we have not seen changes in the way we would like to see it, we have started seeing some changes,” Dover said.

On Thursday March, 7, 2024, SEARCHLIGHT learnt that various officers were at the time in the field assessing students’ reading levels in grades 2 and 4.

As of Tuesday March, 12, they were in the process of crafting diagnostic passages for grade 6 diagnostic test.

The ministry employs an Informal Reading Inventory (IRI) system, which is applied in grades 2 and 4.

The IRI measures a student’s reading levels and determines if “students are reading below their grade level, meaning students at grade 4 are reading at grade 2”.

The IRI is faced with only one challenge, which Dover said is not unique to Vincentian students; that is, students having low reading levels.

He said according to studies, it is a problem that students world wide experience and “…those challenges are what inform us as to what should be done.”

The former teacher made note of the Early Learners Programme which was funded by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

Under that programme, teachers were exposed to different ways to instruct children in all areas of literacy, but reading was the core. A noticeable increase in reading levels was obtained as a result of the programme, he said.

Since then the ministry has held regular workshops and professional development training as a way to build on the skills of teachers, guiding them towards teaching reading effectively in the classroom.