Education ministry develops literacy program

KINGSTON, Jamaica: A National Comprehensive Literacy Program (NCLP) has been developed and introduced to primary schools.

The move is part of an initiative by the Ministry of Education (MoE) to achieve 100 per cent literacy at the primary level by 2015 and allow for students to successfully transition to secondary school.

National Literacy Coordinator, Laurel Brent Harris, said the program is a consolidation of all the efforts within the ministry which are geared towards higher achievement in literacy.

She said the goal is to provide an avenue by which the interventions of the MoE can be filtered into all the various levels of the school system and therefore optimize the inputs.

“We believe that we need to have (a) common document where all teachers can have access to the strategies, approaches and materials, which we have found to be helpful in teaching literacy skills to our children,” Brent Harris said.

She said by providing a “common document system-wide, all our teachers will have the same quality of information…it means therefore that the child, who is performing at a particular level in Negril would be on the same level as a child in another part of Jamaica”.

The NCLP will, among other things, define age-appropriate levels of performance in reading, institutionalize standards and set benchmarks to monitor performance along a chain of accountability; foster partnerships with stakeholders to promote literacy; and build capacity within the ministry to support literacy initiatives.

According to Brent Harris, the NCLP will benefit all stakeholders from the policy maker to the student in the classroom.

She said that the program will “hold every individual involved for the performance of their students and we feel that the children also have to take responsibility”.

The NCLP will operate on 12 pillars. They are: an age-defined taxonomy of reading competencies; prescribed national curricula; institutionalized instructional literacy program; defined literacy principles, standards and benchmarks; a standardized national assessment program; prescribed mechanism for transitioning to the secondary level; sustained parental involvement; structured specialist support to classroom teachers; expanded support for special education; enforced system of accountability; targeted external funding and stakeholder involvement; and a targeted literacy campaign. (JIS)

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