Literacy clinic highlights fun ways of teaching reading

GINA, GUYANA, Monday, September 12, 2016

The Ministry of Education, hosted a literacy clinic to sensitise stakeholders on the importance of literacy, and to showcase items and strategies which can be used to make reading fun.

The activity was held on Sunday at the Princess Hotel/Ramada Fun City, Providence.

Marcel Hutson, Chief Education Officer (acting), Ministry of Education interacting with one of the participants at the literacy clinic held at Princess / Ramada Fun City

Marcel Hutson, Chief Education Officer (acting), Ministry of Education interacting with one of the participants at the literacy clinic held at Princess / Ramada Fun City

Chief Education Officer, acting, Marcel Hutson told the Government Information Agency (GINA), “this clinic is to sensitise parents, sensitise people in the community, and all of us, our responsibility that we have in ensuring that our children read because fundamentally if you can’t read all the other areas in your life are affected in terms of you moving on in society, in terms of you matriculating from one stage to another. Our children must know to read. It is said that from grades one to three, you learn to read and from grade four onwards you read to learn so if you don’t know to read it follows that you will not be able to read to learn.”

Further, the acting CEO said, “we cannot afford to be cultivating illiterate people. Illiterate people are not productive and they will not be able to contribute effectively to the development of society so it’s important that we get our children to read, it’s important that we get all our stakeholders involved into this whole process of reading.”

Fun City was chosen as the venue for the event because it presented a ready assemblage of parents and children, who were the target of the activity.

“We have decided to meet the community. From here we move to the Giftland Mall, then to the Botanic Gardens. Basically, we are looking to where there’s a collection of people,” the CEO explained.

Meanwhile Nicole Agard, Headteacher of Winfer Gardens Primary said the location was ideal because, “We chose here to meet parents because this is where they (children) come for fun and … (the parents) do not mind giving us five minutes and that’s all it takes, five minutes and we can give them tremendous help and advice on how to help children read.”

According to Hutson, the Ministry of Education plans to extend the literacy clinic to several communities across the country since it is the ministry’s goal to ensure that all students are literate by the time they get to grade four.

“As a matter of fact, last week we celebrated, we had a literacy extravaganza where we asked for every Region to set up literacy tents. In front of the Ministry, we had the ministers and different stakeholders reading, this is something that we want to cultivate, this is something that we plan to have rolled out all over, and it is in our literacy action plan.This is one of the areas of emphasis,” Hutson noted.

A section of the participants at the literacy clinic held at Princess / Ramada Fun City

A section of the participants at the literacy clinic held at Princess / Ramada Fun City

Samantha Williams, Education Officer, attached to the National Literacy Unit and other members of the unit, demonstrated to parents and other stakeholders ways of creating materials to aid in the development of literacy in the home.

Among the things shown to parents and other visitors to the literacy clinic was how to recycle common household objects to create learning aids to teach such concepts as colour, numeration, sequencing and texture.

Quizzed about the availability of supplementary literacy material in the schools CEO, acting, Hutson said the Ministry has already procured, for distribution, a number of reading kits.

“Over the years, the Ministry has been instrumental in distributing items and equipment that will promote reading … resources are always scarce and these things come at a cost. What we have seen built into our budget, and is part of the literacy action plan, are literacy kits which will be going to schools. We have games and other materials which teachers will be able to use to promote literacy… it’s  a work in progress, but we are getting there  day by day… the kits are already here. I think distribution should start in this same month,” Hutson explained

Parent, Randolph Perreira, who visited the literacy clinic with his family, said he was quite impressed and pleased with the initiative taken by the Ministry officials.

“First of all, the environment that is created is a friendly one; we need to create an environment of fun and children will learn more… take away the drudgery and children will learn… a very good effort by the Ministry of Education which should be developed and implemented around the country. The teachers know what they are doing. Learning for me is very important. Education is number one priority in everyone’s life not only children. We came because we expected we will learn something new and expand our knowledge and learn what is going on. We came to see whatever reading material is there and see if the ministry is doing anything new…. What I’m seeing here right now we can start doing some local craft… we can open a small industry … a lot of new things to help in learning can be made from everyday recyclable things,” the happy father said.

Perreira’s daughter, Lisa, said she was happy to visit the literacy clinic and was impressed by what she saw.

“It’s fun because we learn how to recycle things and use it for learning… before coming here I found reading somewhat boring … I don’t really think reading would be boring now because they taught me how to read and how to learn and how to have fun with it…. I would encourage my friends to read more …. I really like the recycling it would help me to teach my brother,” Lisa noted.

Team Member and Literacy coordinator of the Georgetown Literacy Committee, Nicole Agard said she was quite pleased with the participation of the public.

Children interacting with one of the literacy aids at the literacy clinic held at Princess / Ramada Fun City

Children interacting with one of the literacy aids at the literacy clinic held at Princess / Ramada Fun City

“Do not make reading a punishment. Let children read to enjoy …. Make it fun, encourage them to read signs as they go along, restaurants’ menu, (and) items used for playing games,” Agard encouraged.

Further, Agard said that the Parent Teachers’ Associations meetings are used as a medium for imparting literacy skills to teachers and parents.

“What we  normally do is that every PTA meeting the school has we have a literacy person present to give tools and tips for improving literacy. We also do parental workshops which once they attend they definitely go back with something.”

The literacy clinic saw the participation of many children and parents who otherwise would have gone to the Princess / Ramada Fun City for a casual Sunday afternoon playing games. While many left satisfied, so too were the organisers of the activity.

“I’m satisfied with the level of interest shown. There’s not a person who passed by without stopping… we do have a flow of persons coming in,” Agard said.