As part of the OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme (ELP) within the Education Development Management Unit 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 specific to support reading improvement. A total of $593,341.75 Eastern Caribbean Dollars (XCD) has been disbursed by the ELP as well as the OECS Education Support Project (OESP) to support schools.
The Canaries Infant School, received XCD$ 8,070.00 in grant funding to establish a programme to make reading more interesting for boys of Grades One and Two. With boys underperforming girls over consecutive years and struggling to read, the Canaries Infant School took action, and implemented a series of innovative initiatives over a six-month period, as they recognized that many male students are kinesthetic learners (learning through physical activities) and required a different approach. Accordingly, the play approach was used on 11 boys, who were encouraged to learn through their senses to activate their brain. This was manifested through meaningful learning experiences where the boys actively engaged in hands on literacy activities including; role playing, the establishment of a literacy station, use of male themes such as superheroes, cars, trucks and dinosaurs in the various reading activities and a male role model to support the various activities.
The results of these initiatives have been favorable with improved reading by the male students within the programme observed by the teachers and an improvement from the standardized pre-test scores taken after the initiative. For the nine (9) male students who took the standardized test, there was 100% improvement in basic reading skills. According to Janessa Felix, class teacher
“The project began last year and for sure we have already seen huge benefits. There has been an increased level of participation among the boys when it comes to reading and literacy activities. A higher level of confidence has also been noticed as well as a greater level of participation.”
OECS examination results across the OECS reveal that boys underperform girls in minimum standard testing and as a result, additional support for boys has become an important factor within the ELP work programme. The ELP and the individual Member States have instituted similar initiatives in the classroom to provide the young boys of the Caribbean with the added support they need to learn in a manner that is more effective for them.
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). The OECS/USAID ELP will run through to September 2020 developing and implementing several initiatives that continue the advancement of early grade reading throughout the OECS.