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.
Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1
By Dana Malcolm
#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”
Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.
Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour. Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands. In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”
Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.
Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources
By Sherrica Thompson
#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.
Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.
“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.
“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”
Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.
Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.
She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.
There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.
Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.
New Healthy Sail rules to ensure transparency and safety kick in, but not all Cruise Lines are on board
By Dana Malcolm
January 20, 2022 – The US Centers for Disease Control Cruise Sailing Order expired on Saturday January 15th and it means cruise lines will now be able to choose whether or not they want to participate. This “Healthy Sail” program is a set of guidelines for cruising which the CDC says will provide transparency about COVID management on ships.
Cruise lines which chose to participate in the “healthy sail” voluntary program will be subject to CDC guidelines. Cruise lines which opt out of the program will still have to adhere to masking mandates and report all COVID cases.
However, the ships opting out of the CDC Healthy Sail program, will not be required to make public their testing regimes for crew and passengers.
“There will be a lot of unknowns about what risk mitigation measures are being used on board because they will really be able to set their own protocols for testing of passengers and crew,” said Aimee Treffiletti, CDC representative to USA Today.
Naturally, this raises several questions about whether these ships will be required to make onboard protocols and findings public to ports of call.
Up to Monday, Norwegian, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines had opted into the program. Noticeably absent from the roll call: Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.
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