The OECS/USAID ELP had planned an aggressive implementation programme leading to the end of the school year with emphasis on ensuring implementation of targeted activities that would directly impact the learners at the classroom level. This was to be advanced through capacity building of teachers through job-embedded Professional Development provided by the ELP Coordinators/Literacy Coaches. These initiatives were designed to guarantee that grades K-3 readers received the necessary instructions to improve their reading performance.
In implementing a strategic response to the adverse affects of COVID – 19 and recognizing that human contact must be minimized for the safety and well-being of all stakeholders, a multi-pronged approach has been adopted to ensure the previously planned outcomes are achieved, inclusive of:
Promoting the use of virtual platforms for professional development and training of teachers during school closures. A cascading approach will be continued where webinars will be conducted with the ELP Coordinators and other literacy leaders who will in turn provide virtual professional development sessions to their Grade K-3 teachers via available online platforms. These Teacher Professional Development (TPD) sessions should lead to greater competence on the part of the teachers in strengthening the home-school connection, as they provide support to parents and caregivers.
The Reading Certificate Course offered by the Eastern Caribbean Joint Board of Teacher Education (ECJBTE), which is an integral part of the TPD component, providing training for approximately 150 teachers, will now transition to a fully online programme in light of the risk to participants.
Shifting the support system to the home to ensure that our primary beneficiaries (students from grades K-3) are meaningfully engaged, if not indirectly by their teachers but directly from their parents/caregivers. This will be done through an aggressive social media campaign targeted at parents highlighting the many ways to support the learning process at home.
The OECS/USAID ELP within the wider Education Development Management Unit (EDMU) will work in the collaboration the Ministries of Education within the Member States to provide the necessary support and enabling environment for continued reading achievement amongst the OECS early grade readers.
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).
To date the ELP has achieved a number of tangible outputs with over 17,000 learners reached at the Primary level, over 1500 Grades K to 3 teachers supported through job embedded professional development, 1426 lessons observed and 1031 coaching sessions with teachers have been completed by ELP Coordinators. Further, 60 schools across the Member States have received development grants to support reading enhancement projects and 173,114 teaching and learning materials have been provided to 750 classrooms across the OECS. The OECS/USAID ELP will run through to September 2020 continuing to develop and implement impactful initiatives that advance early grade reading throughout the OECS.