OECS/USAID Early Learners Program (ELP) Media Release
Thursday, February 6, 2020 — Castle Bruce Primary in the Commonwealth of Dominica received grant funding from the OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme (ELP) to implement an innovative and interactive programme for both students and parents that has delivered positive reading results. As part of the OECS/USAID ELP within the Education Development Management Unit (EDMU) of the OECS Commission, small grants were provided under the project to support school-based reading intervention projects.
A total of ninety-four (94) schools across the OECS have benefitted from school-based grants of which approximately sixty-three (63) were specifically to support reading improvement. A total of $593,341.75 Eastern Caribbean Dollars (XCD) has been disbursed by the ELP as well as the OECS Education Support Project (OESP) to support schools.
In 2017 the Castle Bruce Primary, with ELP grant funds, initiated a reading intervention inclusive of monthly engagements with parents, and the development of a reading and learning centre within the school.
The monthly parent engagements have enabled parents to experience similar reading activities as their children and have showcased fun learning activities that parents can mimic at home. The teachers have created most of the teaching and reading aids which were made from basic items in order to show parents how to recreate these items at no cost as they replicate reading activities at home.
This forum has enabled the teachers to highlight the importance of reading from as early as kindergarten and has helped build a connection between parents and teachers in support of the students’ learning and growth.
An added component to the teacher parent connection is ‘one on one’ classroom meetings between teacher and parent where the child’s progress is discussed. The student’s performance: strengths and weaknesses are shared, and the instructional plan for the student is presented to the parent with key tips on how they can support their child’s progress. Through these initiatives over the last two years, the parents are appreciating the importance of building a strong reading foundation as well as their role in the learning process.
The second component of this innovative project is the development of the ELP Reading and Learning Room which the teachers agree is unconventional for a Caribbean school — with very brightly coloured décor, many developmental games, a writing area, a sand area for letter practice, a listening centre with computers and a library area with various culturally relevant and age appropriate books. Castle Bruce has further created a cafeteria theme with a menu of letters, sight words, adjectives and verbs that are individually featured on the menu daily.
One of the teachers involved in this project, Ms. Hannel Jackson, noted:
“This project has been highly successful. The entire school has become involved specifically teachers: Brittany Etienne, Jeanetta Graham and the principal Jovin Joseph, along with the teachers responsible for Kindergarten to Grade 3.”
“We have an overall enrollment of 87 students and by now most of the students have been positively impacted by this programme. There are ten (10) parents who have consistently been engaged on a monthly basis with the school and we have seen the positive impact with their children.”
“Additionally, we had eight (8) students at the beginning of the project whose reading levels were well below their grade level and who have increased their reading level and shown clear improvement. This has had a huge positive impact on the school overall and we are very excited to continue to grow this programme for the benefit of our young learners,” Jackson said.
The EDMU of the OECS Commission commends Castle Bruce Primary on its reading interventions which strengthens the home-school connection.
About OECS/USAID ELP:
OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme is a Programme within the Education Development Management Unit of the OECS Commission and was established in March 2015 to improve the reading skills of children in the early primary grades with the goal of providing a foundation for improved learning outcomes and enhanced opportunities for students in the six (6) independent Member States of the OECS (Antigua and Barbuda, The Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines).
To date the ELP has achieved a number of tangible outputs with over 17,000 learners reached at the Primary level, over 1500 Grades K to 3 teachers supported through job embedded professional development, 1426 lessons observed and 1031 coaching sessions with teachers have been completed by ELP Coordinators. Further, 60 schools across the Member States have received development grants to support reading enhancement projects and 173,114 teaching and learning materials have been provided to 750 classrooms across the OECS. The OECS/USAID ELP will run through to September 2020 continuing to develop and implement impactful initiatives that advance early grade reading throughout the OECS.