Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, Marcella Powell, has revealed plans to address what is referred to as a noticeable gap between the level of performance of boys and girls in Dominica.
“The Ministry of Education intends to address the issue of gender disparity through relevant curriculum material which satisfies the curiosity and interest of boys,” Powell said at Early Learners Program (ELP) inception meeting on Thursday.
The program is aimed at addressing low performances and seeks to raise the reading levels of early learners at the early primary level, from grades K to 3 in all member states of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) including Dominica.
The Permanent Secretary said the disparity was a “major area of focus” for the Ministry.
“Our assessments over the years have revealed that girls outperform boys by an uncomfortable margin. While this reflects the fact that our girls have continued to work hard, we need to ensure that our boys catch up with respect to their performance, particularly in literacy.”
She said the ministry is not comforted by the fact that the issue is not unique to Dominica,
“I must inform you that we are not comforted by the fact that this may be a regional phenomenon. Therefore we are determined to stem this trend by improving literacy performance particularly among boys.”
The Early Learners Program aims to introduce appropriate language of instruction to teach reading at the early grades, develop teachers’ capability to assess and to teach reading to children at the early grades of primary school and improve teacher competence in the use of diagnostic tools for the early assessment of children at risk of low achievement in reading.
Other objectives of the program are: to develop and procure as necessary, teaching resources and learning materials for reading, design, develop and adopt appropriate intervention strategies for at risk children, design and implement a programme of assessment which provides better guidance for addressing students’ needs and to secure adequate instructional and practice time for reading in and out of school.
The program is one of the initiatives of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States and is being sponsored by The United States Agency for International Development (USAID).