Jamaica is expected to achieve the target of 85 per cent mastery in literacy among Grade Four students by 2015.
This was disclosed by Minister of Education Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites at the Western Union Teachers’ Workshop, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel on Friday, April 11.
Mr. Thwaites explained that this forecast is based on the trends from the Grade Four Literacy Test results, which last year showed girls within reach of the target.
“It is based on their performance that the Ministry is confident of attaining the overall target,” Mr. Thwaites said.
He noted that the Ministry has also introduced strategies aimed at improving the teaching of literacy skills to boys.
He added that the recent appointment of a gender specialist will assist in achieving this goal, as well as ensuring that pockets of weaknesses among girls are not overlooked.
In addition, Rev. Thwaites noted that the real advantage of students attaining mastery of literacy at Grade Four is that it has a cascading effect further along the education system.
“We find that with those who acquire the required skills at the given grade (they) are able to master the other subjects as they go along,” he stated.
“With a strong foundation in literacy at grade four it is expected that students will perform successfully in the Grade Six Achievement Test and other subsequent school-based and external examinations,” he added.
He further informed that the Ministry is aiming to improve the passes in English Language in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate programme from the current 64 per cent, to close to 100 by the year 2020.
The Ministry also intends to expand the number of students in the eligible cohort who sit the examination.
Meanwhile, Rev. Thwaites expressed his appreciation to the GraceKennedy Group through its Western Union brand, for supporting the national literacy programme through initiatives such as workshops for teachers.
Marketing Manager at Western Union Jamaica, Vinette Rowe noted that GraceKennedy supports the Ministry’s position of achieving 100 per cent literacy.
“We believe interventions like these will help us reach that target. As a country we cannot afford to have any child leaving school or advance into the next level without mastering their reading skills,” Miss Rowe stated.
The Western Union Primary School Teachers’ Workshop is now in its second year. This year, Western Union will host two special workshops for 160 teachers, offering expert guidance on improving techniques for the teaching of reading at the primary level. The second workshop will be held on April 16, in St. Catherine.