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EDUCATION MINISTRY CONFIDENT OF ACHIEVING LITERACY TARGET

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KINGSTON, Jan. 19 (JIS): The Ministry of Education is expressing confidence in attaining its goal of
85 per cent of students in the grade four age cohort achieving mastery of literacy in 2015.
An optimistic Portfolio Minister, the Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, notes that the country is now 7.6 per cent away from achieving this target.

“The final measurement will be made at this year’s sitting of the Grade Four Literacy Test,” he said.
The Minister was speaking at a meeting with senior journalists at the Alhambra Inn Hotel in St. Andrew recently.
Rev. Thwaites pointed out that when the 15 per cent of students who suffer from learning disabilities are accounted for, 85 per cent translates to 100 per cent of the educable cohort.

According to National Literacy Co-ordinator, Dr. André Hill, the Ministry will do everything it possibly can in the next few months to maximise as much as possible students’ outcomes in the 2015 Grade Four Literacy Test.
He pointed to the deployment of 66 reading coaches across the island to provide direct support to 420 primary schools. Each will work with approximately seven schools.

“They will be particularly working with the struggling readers in grade four, providing clinical attention to these students as well as pedagogical support for classroom teachers, in addition to extending further support to the parents in schools that have registered low achievement at grade four over the last three years,” he said.

Dr. Hill contended that if the Ministry gets support from the community in addition to what the Ministry is now extending to the school system, “we are certain the outcomes, certainly for this year, will take us very close, if not actually to the 85 per cent.”

Meanwhile, the Minister reiterated the importance of the role parents, home life and community have in helping to achieve the target. He noted for instance, that encouraging children to read in Sunday school greatly helps the literacy levels of students.

He further urged parents, even if they are not literate themselves, to encourage their children to read.
The Minister informed that at the 2014 sitting of the grade four literacy test,
77.4 per cent of the age cohort achieved the acceptable standard of mastery in literacy, which represented a 30 per cent increase for the 10-year period – 2004 to 2014.

He noted that the improvement in literacy has been the result of the combined efforts of the Ministry’s National Literacy Team and dedicated teachers.

“In addition, the country is indebted to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for its support in improving literacy outcomes,” he said.

In terms of the numeracy test, Rev. Thwaites informed that 58 per cent of students who sat the Grade Four Test last year attained mastery, a marginal decline of 1.4 per cent over the previous year.
“But, there has been a 20 per cent improvement for the past five years, moving from a low of 38 per cent in 2010,” he said.

The Minister said that using literacy as a benchmark, the Ministry is pleased with the progress the country has made so far.

The Grade Four Literacy and numeracy tests are administered to children to determine their literacy and numeracy levels at grade four, in keeping with international requirements and standards.

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Caribbean News

Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne 

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.  The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.

Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.

Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.

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Bahamas News

Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Bahamas News

Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.

After the minister resigned – unceremoniously –  in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.

Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.

Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”

Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings.  Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.

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