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.