Literacy programme for parents to be rolled out soonMonday, May 17, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, through the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) is rolling out a literacy programme for parents, so they can, in turn, impart the literacy skills learnt to their children.
Following the successful pilot of the literacy programme for parents in 2017, dubbed 'Literacy is a Family Experience', in schools in St Elizabeth, the commission is now rolling out the programme in six other parishes.
The initiative, which is expected to get under way shortly, will now incorporate schools in Manchester, Hanover, St James, Westmoreland, St Ann and Trelawny.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NPSC, Kaysia Kerr, told JIS News that the literacy levels of children who were initially involved, improved by two or more grade levels, “which is why we are rolling it out now to include other schools”.
She noted that revival of the programme is a major thrust for the commission, as the entity is of the belief that education is the vehicle that can transform the lives of people, “and so if parents are better participants in education, then chances are they will be there to support their children through that journey to ensure they achieve and, ultimately, will realise their potential”.
“We have a mandate to support parents who can be active participants in education. Research shows that where parental involvement is low, children are likely to not [perform well] academically and present antisocial behaviours in school because there is no accountability at home and the home does not necessarily mirror what the school is saying,” she said.
Kerr noted that especially with the advent of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it has been recognised that the home has changed, now being the place of teaching and learning, and so it is important that parents are provided with the tools to enable them to assist their children to keep up academically in the online space.
“If parents are quick to help their children, it's even better because the children are not physically going to school. They are spending time in the homes, so when there is online fatigue, they take breaks, but it would be nice that even [during] their extended breaks, the parent is there to help the child to continue work in literacy, and where there are Internet disruptions the child is there getting help. We first have to make sure the parents are equipped with the skills,” she said.
Kerr explained that the literacy programme will help children who have deficits in this area by teaching their parents the same strategies that are being taught to them, so that they can be helped at home, and in doing so, “we can bridge that literacy gap”.
Explaining how the programme will be rolled out, Kerr noted that it is in partnership with the National Literacy Programme and the school regions where the various authorities will select the schools in which the programme will be introduced.
This will be based on the literacy deficits of students, who will be identified using their grade-four literacy results, and may also include their grade-one individual learning profile.
“So, it's the regional directors and the literacy coordinators in each region that will select the schools based on data that they have. Those are submitted to the Commission and then we now identify the parents of those children who fall in this particular category and we will have a full rollout of the programme where they have to sit in the classes and they will be taught these strategies, how to help their children,” she informed.
Kerr said that to ensure the success of the programme, people will be designated as parent navigators, “who are going to be the ones who contact the parents to make sure they show up for classes, to make sure they finish their homework, and to make sure they are in touch with us at the Commission for troubleshooting and so on”.
She added that the plan, “if COVID allows”, is to deliver the programme through both a classroom setting and online.
“It all depends what happens with COVID. Where possible, we will have the parents mobilise to the Parent Places and have the instruction done through that facility that exists… . If not, what we will have to do is what we have been doing – ensure that it happens in the online space,” she said.
The NPSC's Parent Place initiative is described as a 'one-stop shop' for parenting information, skills training and support on effective parenting. It offers what is described as “21st century parenting” through quality information and referrals, access to parenting resources and workshops.
“It would've happened before now, but then COVID hit us. Now that we have a handle on the online space and we are understanding that this is also an opportunity to ensure that even the children who, for whatever reason, have not been as engaged as they should be during this period, we can now get them engaged under this programme,” she added.
The NPSC's mission is to assist parents in developing the skills they need to raise and protect their children, while encouraging a collaborative effort between home and school so that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of their children.
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