WHEN schools reopened for face-to-face classes in March, the administration at the Seaview Gardens Primary School faced a significant problem — extreme learning loss across all age groups, particularly in literacy.
Having assessed the situation and crafted an action plan, the school's Principal Sangieanna Reid-Prince reached out to the Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation for help to get the students back on track.
After consultations and planning, stakeholders gathered on the school grounds last Thursday to celebrate the official launch of the Seaview Gardens Primary Literacy Programme, a three-year, $8-million initiative funded by the D&G Foundation to close the literacy gap and set students on a path to excellence.
Acting chief education officer in the Ministry of Education and Youth, Dr Kasan Troupe described the launch as a watershed moment.
"Today is a turning point and a sign that this institution is committed. It also signals that the D&G Foundation is invested in developing this community. The greatest gift you can give anyone is the gift of education, starting with the basic principles of reading and writing. Today is a testament to what can be achieved through collaboration. This investment shows a strong belief in these students, who will eventually become the leaders of this community and our country," said Troupe.
"I am an example of someone teachers believed in. I started out in Greenwich Town and did not grow up privileged, but just like these children, my teachers and principal had hope in me, which is what took me to where I am today. Let us never give up on the students of Seaview Primary. Let's continue to partner with teachers, parents, community, and stakeholders to make the dreams of these boys and girls a reality," added Troupe.
The Seaview Gardens programme is designed to support literacy development across all subject areas. In addition to literacy levels, students will be assessed based on their skills, interests, learning styles, and sensory awareness abilities.
The methods to be deployed will enable teachers and specialists to design individual learning tools for each student. For lower grades, the programme will focus on literacy development, fluency in reading, and comprehension skill building. Students in upper school, grades four through six, will also include critical thinking as a core component.
"Education is one of a nation's most valuable assets, and the impact of the phenomenal depletion caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is immeasurable," said Reid-Prince.
"As a community school, we recognised that our students were in peril, which is why we reached out for support. The situation was scary, but it also inspired us to act quickly," added the principal.
D&G Foundation accountant Dennis Beckford applauded Reid-Prince and her team for the level of detail and speed with which they responded to the problem.
"We were so impressed by the school's proposal, and we're eager to see the development that will take place over the next three years. Our goal is for the intervention programme to provide critical literacy development assistance for all students at Seaview Primary.
"Together we have put measures in place to ensure that these goals are achieved. Due to the intensity and scope of this intervention, we have established a project team that will meet monthly to review the programme. These reviews will allow us to correct deviations to stay on track. All students must emerge from this programme better than they were at the start," said Beckford.
The programme launch was an exciting affair, with students performing original music, dance, and poetry to entertain more than 100 invited guests, which included community residents, school board members, staff of the D&G Foundation, and senior members of the education ministry.