Chief Education Officer, Melena Fontaine has said the Ministry of Education continues to embark on a number of initiatives that seek to address low performances among students, particularly in early grades.
She was speaking at a Teachers and Principals two-day OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme opening ceremony held at the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) Building on Monday.
“Over the years the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development have embarked on a number of initiatives that would seek to address low performances, particularly in the early grades,” she said.
According to Fontaine, there have been increases in the performance of students in literacy, however the data keeps showing the need to do more and to sustain best practices in reading.
“The ELP is helping us to do that through a number of activities that we have been engaged in since it was launched,” she stated.
Fontaine explained that to-date the Education Ministry has built capacity at the ministerial level and also at the Faculty of Education at the Dominica State College (DSC), so that officers would work closely with classroom teachers, providing them with continuous professional development, coaching and feedback in the area of teaching of reading.
She revealed that approximately 94 teachers have been provided with self- training in the last year and they are now well placed to perform the role of literacy coordinators in schools.
Furthermore Fontaine said that the Ministry of Education, in partnership with the Faculty of Education at the DSC, participated in the implementation of a virtual coaching model that uses digital technology to coach and guide teachers in the classroom without the coach or supervisor having to be in the classroom.
“Preparations are also ongoing at the regional level for teachers to participate in a specialized reading certificate course and for those who qualify a master’s teacher’s certificate course,” she noted.
Meantime, she pointed out that besides teacher training, having material for the teaching and practice of reading is critical and so materials worth over $EC525,000 has been procured and distributed to schools in Dominica through the project.
“We are still in the process of distribution as we are experiencing challenges created by inadequate storage space within the schools severely affected by Hurricane Maria,” she said.