I am excited to share some highlights from my March visit to Jamaica. This trip signifies a major step toward fulfilling Reading Owl’s mission of providing books and learning resources to disadvantaged Jamaican children.
The main purpose of my visit was to conduct school assessments. I had the pleasure of visiting four schools in Hanover, a parish (state) on the northwestern end of the island. I met many amazing students and teachers, and was really impressed with the creative and inspiring work of the educators, even in challenging and under-resourced environments.
Here are some highlights from my visit to Clifton Primary, one of our pilot program schools:
Clifton Primary is a located in the remote community of Clifton, a largely agrarian town, serving students ages 6-12 from several neighboring communities.
I was very moved to be in the classrooms, to listen and see the excitement and desire for learning on each child’s face. Many of the class activities reminded me of my own childhood experience, in a classroom similar to the ones at Clifton. I reminisced at how the early investments in my life had yielded results, so much that I was back to help invest in the next generation of students.
Clifton’s principal, Patrice Campbell, was proud to share with me that their school was recently featured in the island’s major newspaper, the Jamaican Gleaner, for topping the national average on the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) by 51 points! The GSAT is a required exam for all students to determine readiness for high school.
Despite the encouraging news, Mrs. Campbell reported that a number of their students still fail to demonstrate a mastery of basic reading and writing skills. Exacerbating the problem is little or no access to books in the home, so having a supportive environment at school, including a functional library, is of utmost importance.
Clifton Primary's educational gains are commendable, but as my assessment revealed, the students would be much better positioned with:
1. Improved library infrastructure: finishing the library floor, installing ventilation, and adding seats for the students
2. Technological support: computers, tablets - the school has none!
3. Literary books and accessories for their library - the school has not received any new books from the Ministry of Education in over three years.
More than anything else, my trip to Jamaica reinforced the value of investing in early learning, and strengthening student outcomes. As I talked with the teachers, it was evident that the educational achievements of disadvantaged students is an ever-growing concern. With your help, Reading Owls can provide literacy support to supplement in-class learning, and help every boy and girlachieve his or her potential.
Thanks to YOU, #JamaicaReads
August 30, 2016
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October 8, 2015
The Power of Collaborations: Reading Owls and the Peace Corps join forces to tackle illiteracy in Jamaica