Training of literacy volunteers commenced

– Aimed at expediting the attainment of national literacy goals

The National Literacy Department of the Ministry of Education commenced a three-day training workshop for literacy volunteers who wish to assist the Ministry to attain national literacy goals. The workshop is being held at the Ramada Princess Hotel.

Assistant Chief Education Officer with responsibility for literacy, Ms. Samantha Williams said that ensuring that all citizens become functionally literate cannot be the fate of the Ministry of Education alone. She said, “the onus is on each of us to help one another and to help each other unlock our reading and literacy potential.” She said that all of Guyana will reap the consequences if nothing is done to address the issue of low literacy rates.

Assistant Chief Education Officer with responsibility for literacy, Ms. Samantha Williams

She said that 132 volunteers will join the Ministry to aggressively work to eliminate illiteracy. According to Ms. Williams, the National Literacy Volunteer Program will help the Ministry to concretize the level of support that can be given to students through intervention and remediation programs.

The ACEO explained that the program that is designed for volunteers is fast-paced and self-paced and caters for six weeks of intervention. She said that the National Literacy Department’s training module comprises three levels and will move students from beginner readers to becoming independent readers.

Literacy Volunteers at the first day of training

However, she noted that firstly, students must be assessed so that their reading levels can be identified so that the right strategy can be applied to help them move along the literacy continuum until they become functionally literate.

She noted that the volunteers who will participate in the training workshop were drawn from various sectors, ministries and from all 10 administrative regions.

Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcel Hutson said that partnerships are important to achieve the transformation that is desired regarding Guyana’s literacy rate. He said that Guyana’s literacy landscape must change dramatically for the better.

Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcel Hutson

Dr. Hutson said that a critical element of the current Education Sector Plan has to do with raising the levels of performance of learners at every level, nursery, primary and secondary. He added that there are also the Sustainable Development Goals which talk about access, quality, equity, inclusivity, and lifelong learning. He said that if those two areas are to be achieved, literacy is critical.

Deputy Chief Education Officer with responsibility for Amerindian and Hinterland Education Development, Mr. Marti DeSouza noted in his remarks to the volunteers that the volunteer program brings the Ministry one step closer to eliminating illiteracy.

Deputy Chief Education Officer with responsibility for Amerindian and Hinterland Education Development, Mr. Marti DeSouza

He said that the partnerships that will be forged through the volunteer program will take the Ministry a long way. Mr. DeSouza told the volunteers that the program will provide the opportunity to change the status quo. “This is an ideal opportunity for us to give back to our communities in a way that will have a lifelong impact,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director of Enrollment and Student Affairs at the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL), Mr. Ronald Singh said that the volunteer program is a welcome initiative since one component of the GOAL scholarship program is that beneficiaries are required to participate in community service.

Deputy Director of Enrollment and Student Affairs at the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL), Mr. Ronald Singh

According to Mr. Singh, many scholarship awardees have approached GOAL for guidance on what project they can be a part of to satisfy that requirement. He said that this program will be a welcome development for the over 14,000 awardees to date who may be inclined to become literacy volunteers.

Mrs. Pamela O’toole, Director of School of the Nations said to the first cohort of literacy volunteers that they are charged with the responsibility to carry out this initiative, to regain learning loss and to alleviate learning poverty. She said that the need is tremendous and may be growing. She urged them to approach the task with confidence and optimism.

Mrs. Pamela O’toole, Director of School of the Nations

She said that the National Literacy program is achieving great success and confidence and optimism are big parts of their role as volunteers. “You are the bridge between future failure or success. The future of the children in your care lies squarely in your hands.”

Literacy Volunteers at the first day of training
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