Despite movement restrictions as a result of COVID-19, the Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development of the Government of Saint Lucia has coordinated a robust programme of activities for students to engage in during Reading Month while at home. The objectives of Reading Month activities are to:
1) support students as they become increasingly independent in their learning and;
2) encourage critical thinking in students through various learning activities.
One of the major initiatives for Reading Month is a programme called Reading Café with Vybe Radio (92.9, 100.9fm) every week Monday through Thursday from 10: 30- 11:00 am. The programme is designed to support students who are now learning at home. This initiative will continue beyond reading month, spanning the duration of the school term. The half hour programme is targeted at primary and secondary students and will include readings of narratives and informational texts by educators. Additionally, some Reading Café sessions may include updates regarding teaching and learning during the period of this pandemic response.
This platform will also be used to share details about Reading Month activities that families can engage in at home to support reading and learning. The family activities that the Ministry has compiled for Reading Month, such as family movie night, family story-wording, word play challenges and family Kwéyol storytelling night among others, are designed to be fun and to create a learning and bonding environment at home. There are daily activities for students linked to the Reading Café radio programme and the weekly activities for families to collaborate in – all geared to creating independent learners and critical thinkers.
The OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme (ELP) is seeking ways to support families with no access to devices and internet and is working closely with the Ministries of Education in the OECS to implement viable solutions. The OECS/USAID ELP is keenly interested in supporting Saint Lucia’s Ministry of Education and Vybe Radio in the promotion of the Reading Café Radio programme. The Ministry of Education and the OECS/USAID ELP will use its many platforms and outlets to promote the show, such as: Facebook groups and promotions, direct email and WhatsApp promotion, and teasers on radio. All teachers and principals will also be encouraged to promote the show to their students, particularly those without devices or internet.
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.