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Dougan: Ministry not alarmed, but better informed to tackle problem


Although the results of the recently completed National Diagnostic reading test give cause for great concern about the state of literacy among our nation’s children, Chief Education Officer, Susan Dougan insists that the ministry is not alarmed but now better informed to tackle the problem.

“The exam was administered by the ministry to highlight the weaknesses,” stated a very optimistic Dougan. The Diagnostic reading test was administered nationwide to Grade 2 and Grade 4 students. “Now that we have a better idea of the problem we can put our national intervention into place.”{{more}}

Addressing the causes of the poor results, Dougan stressed that there are several variables contributing to the problem, including learning disorders and poor attendance. She also dismissed the myth that the schools closer to the city are doing better than the rural schools, identifying the Union Methodist School in New Grounds and the Questelles Government School as two of the outstanding schools highlighted by the test.

She declined to divulge the complete findings of the test, but mentioned that each school principal has received their school’s report.

Very much aware of the challenges that the remedial intervention plan will pose, the CEO is however convinced that the Ministry will have the necessary things in place to address the problem. The seriousness of the problem is ever before the ministry. “if the foundation is weak, the problem will continue into the secondary school and adulthood,” emphasized Dougan.

The use of experienced teachers to do remedial work within the schools, the general re-deployment of teachers and the establishment of classroom libraries will form part of the intervention plan of the ministry. There will also be an effort to have more teachers enrolled in the training program being conducted by the Caribbean Centre for Excellence for Teacher Training. There are currently six schools in this program which is funded by USAID where teachers are being trained as literacy coordinators.

The ministry will also be seeking to partner with the Corporate society to host more speaking and reading competitions in the primary schools to help sharpen the skills and give further incentives to the students to learn. Dougan indicated that several business houses and especially service clubs have already indicated interest in such ventures.