Education ministry to roll out literacy programme for parents

THE Government, following the successful pilot of the literacy programme for parents in 2017, is now rolling out the programme in six other parishes.

The ‘Literacy is a Family Experience’ initiative, which is expected to get under way shortly, will now incorporate schools in Manchester, Hanover, St James, Westmoreland, St Ann and Trelawny.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, which will be implementing the project through the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC), said it has recognised that parental involvement is crucial as they can impart literacy skills learnt to their children.

Kaysia Kerr, chief executive officer of the NPSC, told JIS News that the literacy levels of children who were initially involved in the pilot improved by two or more grade levels, “which is why we are rolling it out now to include other schools”.

She noted that revival of the programme is a major thrust for the commission as the entity is of the belief that education is the vehicle that can transform the lives of persons, “and so, if parents are better participants in education then, chances are, they will be there to support their children through that journey to ensure they achieve and, ultimately, will realise their potential”.

Said Kerr: “We have a mandate to support parents who can be active participants in education. Research shows that where parental involvement is low, children are likely to not [perform well] academically and present anti-social behaviours in school because there is no accountability at home and the home does not necessarily mirror what the school is saying.”

Kerr said that especially with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been recognised that the home has changed, now being the place of teaching and learning, and so it is important that parents are provided with the tools to enable them to assist their children to keep up academically in the online space.

“If parents are quick to help their children it’s even better, because the children are not physically going to school. They are spending time in the homes so when there is online fatigue, they take breaks, but it would be nice that even [during] their extended breaks the parent is there to help the child to continue work in literacy, and where there are Internet disruptions the child is there getting help. We first have to make sure the parents are equipped with the skills,” she said.

Kerr explained that the literacy programme will help children who have deficits in this area by teaching their parents the same strategies that are being taught to them, so that they can be helped at home [and in doing so] “we can bridge that literacy gap”.

Kerr said the initiative is in partnership with the national literacy programme and the school regions where the various authorities will select the schools in which the programme will be introduced.

This will be based on the literacy deficits of students who will be identified using their grade-four literacy results, and may also include their grade-one individual learning profile.

“So, it’s the regional directors and the literacy coordinators in each region that will select the schools based on data that they have. Those are submitted to the commission and then we now identify the parents of those children who fall in this particular category, and we will have a full roll-out of the programme where they have to sit in the classes and they will be taught these strategies, how to help their children,” she said.

Kerr said that to ensure the success of the programme, persons will be designated as parent navigators “who are going to be the ones who contact the parents to make sure they show up for classes, to make sure they finish their homework, and to make sure they are in touch with us at the commission for troubleshooting and so on”.

She added that the plan, “if COVID allows”, is to deliver the programme through both a classroom setting and online.

“It all depends what happens with COVID. Where possible, we will have the parents mobilise to the parent places and have the instruction done through that facility that exists…If not, what we will have to do is what we have been doing —ensure that it happens in the online space,” she said.

The NPSC’s mission is to assist parents in developing the skills they need to raise and protect their children while encouraging a collaborative effort between home and school so that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of their children.

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