The Early Learners Program (ELP) which is aimed at addressing the 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), is being welcomed in Dominica.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, Marcella Powell, said at the program’s inception meeting, ahead of the actual launch, which was held on Thursday 12th November 2015, that the Ministry is pleased with ELP’s objectives.
“We are particularly pleased,” She said adding that it is in line with the Ministry’s own objectives.
The program aims to introduce appropriate language of instruction to teach reading at the early grades, develop teachers capability to asses 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 to reading in and out of school.
The program is a one of the initiatives of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States and is being sponsored by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Powell said the Ministry remains convinced that reading is the “most important skill that children can develop in their formative period as this determines whether children become proficient writers and communicators, whether they will excel at school, and whether they will achieve resultant successes in their careers and lives.”
Meantime Education Specialist, Education Development Management Unit in the OECS, Sisera Simon, said the program will target students at risk.
“We intend to use the lessons learnt from previous programs to inform (ELP) going forward. But moreover it seeks to address or to consider those who are most at risk,” she said.
Simon added that the strategies and ideas will also tackle males taking in the socio economic factors of students and “most importantly” it seeks to include teachers who will be integral in guiding what happens in the project.
ELP came to be as a result of poor performance in English Language and Mathematics that continues to be an area of major headache for educators and policy makers in the OECS.