SDC moves to fix St Thomas literacy gap

MORANT BAY, St Thomas — After its summer camp revealed reading problems in some of St Thomas's primary school students, the Social Development Commission (SDC) intends to launch a social intervention programme to address the literacy gap.

"We have found some very disturbing things. There are two children who have never gone to school; one is seven and the other is 11 years old," said SDC field supervisor for St Thomas, Darlene McCalla.

SDC staff members are moving to get the two children enrolled in school but, according to McCalla, they have been having a challenge contacting their parents.

A concerned Mayor Michael Hue (Port Morant Division, Jamaica Labour Party) said he hopes the SDC will mobilise the respective authorities to address the situation.

Both were speaking at last Thursday's monthly meeting of the St Thomas Municipal Corporation at which McCalla provided an update on the summer camp. The staging of the two-week activity focused on primary school students within the neighbouring communities of the SDC St Thomas office. The camp came at the behest of Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie. Apart from the challenges with reading, the camp has been deemed a success.

"The students did maths, English, civics, etiquette, balloon art, jewellery making, and we also allowed them to express themselves through art and craft," McCalla told the meeting.

Sports were also in the mix, with the children getting an opportunity to indulge in cricket, football and track and field.

Participants were provided with three meals per day after initial plans to serve only two were adjusted when organisers realised many were showing up without having breakfast.

Over the two-week period there were a few students who stood out and they were given awards for their impressive work. Male students were also given free haircuts to prepare them for the new school term.

"The programme was quite successful. We had over 50 students attending," McCalla said.

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