HANDS Across the Sea, an organization working to raise the literacy levels in children throughout the Caribbean, hosted a remedial reading workshop last week for teachers and Heads of Departments of English. The workshop was held at Sandals La Toc through the support of the Sandals Foundation, which donated Remedial Reading toolkits to six local educational institutions. Participants were also trained in the use of the toolkits, which were said to equip educators with a suite of effective literacy-building materials. Approximately 13 secondary schools from across the island participated in the exercise.
The six institutions which were the recipients of the reading kits were Angier Secondary School, Ciceron Secondary School, Sir Ira Simmons Secondary School, CARE, Clendon Mason Secondary School and the Saint Lucia Sports Academy.
According to Clara Paul, Literacy Link with Hands Across the Sea, “Hands Across the Sea has been able to capture schools that are low-end performing secondary schools and Sandals Foundation has come to their assistance by funding those remedial reading kits.”
Paul affirmed that the kits would help to impart skills and knowledge to students which would improve their literacy and reading abilities. She said the remedial reading kits would go a long way in raising literacy levels as teachers attending the workshop would train their other colleagues to use the kits.
Paul added, “Teachers now are better able to make use of those kits to aid with instruction at their schools. We hope for next year that we can continue to give more schools remedial reading kits and for us to see at least a greater improvement in students; both boys and girls at those secondary schools.”
The reading kits consisted of flashcards, magnetic boards, several books and other supplies specifically designed for increasing literacy. Paul stated, “The content for today’s workshop and the expectations; our goals and our objectives will be achieved, and I am certainly sure that teachers will go back rejuvenated, and they will have the passion to use those resources in a very successful way.”
Sheila Serville, Literacy Link with Hands Across the Sea, stressed on the effectiveness of the reading kits noting that there were teenagers whose reading ability was below that of grade one and two. “That’s right… there are teenagers who do not know letters and the sound of the letters. The situation is shocking, but with passion, dedication and a teen-targeted remedial reading tool kit, educators can begin to turn the tide. Our catching-up programmes equip educators with a suite of powerful tools. It’s time to be serious about the problem,” she remarked.
Other objectives of the workshop were to explore the challenges that teachers face in teaching reading at secondary schools; to differentiate between a remedial reading programme and special education; to demonstrate how to integrate the components of the reading kit and to explore reading strategies for teens and practical strategies for dealing with large class sizes. Serville concluded, “Collectively and individually, we all are here for the same purpose. We all are here to see that our students, those in secondary schools, move up the ladder; we are here basically to see that when they leave school they are literate and they can read.”