Going Home Again
On this trip home, I also met one of the two current basic school teachers at Jeffrey Town Basic School, a town where I attended primary (elementary) school. Now the basic school is housed in a building with very little ventilation, a leaky roof and no books. There are thirty-eight children who are being underserved in this school, and their lack of access, juxtaposed against the opportunities afforded to many of the children I know in America, is heartbreaking. One bright light was the energy and passion displayed by the teacher I met. She clearly cares about her charges, and credits her teaching vocation to Aunt Dar, the same basic school teacher who gave my brother and I our start.
To the extent that home has changed, sadly for me, it has not been for the better. Fortunately, Reading Owls International is itself an agent for the changes we want to see. To that end, we have recently partnered with the Early Childhood Commission, the organization charged with developing appropriate plans and programs for Jamaican children from birth to eight years, to ensure that every child not only has access to books as early as possible, but are set on a path to optimal development. Even though the country has made strides, large areas of Jamaica are still fundamentally underdeveloped, with a shocking degree of literacy deficiency that continues to have a crippling effect on national development and personal empowerment. Recent data from The World Bank affirms what we already know, that is, "in order to attain high literacy rates, children should be taught to read in the first few years of school; interventions for getting young children to read work and higher literacy rates are associated with healthier populations, less crime, greater economic growth, and higher employment rates." More information on the published data can be found here.
Going home again has reinforced even more the importance of equipping our youngest with the tools they need to succeed. As we turn the chapter on a new school year, I want to thank each and every one of you who have joined us on this incredible journey - to level the playing field so that ALL kids have the opportunity to realize their full potential.
Elaine Dickson, Chair, ROI