Linden literacy programme targets students, parents

- attracts $1M Digicel sponsorship

A pilot has been launched for the Parent-Child Alternative Programme (P-CAP), which is aimed at helping students in Linden diagnosed with literacy problems and their parents.

The programme, which evolved out of tutoring programmes for Grade Six pupils from selected schools in Linden and run by the Linden Fund USA during the August school break, will help shepherd a group of children preparing to sit the National Grade Six Assessment in 2012. It has already attracted a $1.1 million sponsorship deal from Digicel Guyana.

P-CAP, which is starting out with nine Grade Six students who have been diagnosed with serious literacy problems, will run for the remainder of the 2011-2012 academic year. “For the next phase we are hoping to do this in a more comprehensive way. It is our dream to run a six-year course by taking a group of pupils from grade one onto grade six, when they would write the national grade six examination. Again we intend to target children who have the ability to excel but need individualised tutoring and an alternative method of teaching as opposed to regular systems that exist in our schools,” explained a local representative of the fund at the launch ceremony on Tuesday at the Linden Enterprise Network (LEN) conference room.

The programme got off the ground once it attracted volunteers with the professional experience to deal with the students as well as the support of private local businesses.

Some of the students flanked by their parents, Digicel representatives, LFU members and volunteers.

Certified early childhood expert Janette Campbell volunteered her services and she was instrumental in doing individual diagnostic tests of the pupils and developing an Individualized Education Programme (IEP) for each child. It was partly as a result of her professional approach to the programme that the organisation decided that it was poised to take the bold step and provide a more objective level of academic assistance to the group of specially selected children through the P-CAP.

“For the past four years, I have had a strong concern for the education of young children in Guyana. Everyday, policy makers, administrators, teachers and caregivers make a great many decisions, at all levels, both long term and short term, that affect young children. It is those many decisions that determine whether what actually happens in a classroom or family child care home is or is not developmentally appropriate,” said Campbell.

She said that what makes the P-CAP programme innovative and unique is that it has a component of community involvement of parents, caregivers, teachers, school administrators, and other cooperating agencies as partners in a child’s education.

It aims to ensure children receive the quality education, as well as the best protection and care so they can develop to their fullest potential.

The programme aims to provide specialised methods in teaching Reading and English Language, provide guidance and counselling, develop and provide specific intervention strategies appropriate for each child, and off curriculum experiences that promote the children’s optimal learning and development physically, socially, emotionally, cognitively, psychologically and spiritually.

In addition to the work done with students, the programme will require parents, guardians or caregivers to participate in sessions designed to enable them to assist their children with their school work at home. Further, their attendance at PTA meetings in formal school system must also be consistent. They will also have adult literacy lessons at least twice a week to build their capacity in assisting their children at home.

Executive Treasurer of the Fund Desmond Bacchus, who is currently in Guyana, expressed gratitude to the Digicel for the partnership. He said that it has been several years that the organisation had been attempting to form a relationship with the company.
“I know that Linden Fund USA and Digicel are committed to educating children of the community and we are looking forward to a working relationship,” he said.

Also speaking at the launch, Chief Executive Officer of Digicel Guyana Gregory Dean lauded the intervention of the fund. He also committed the company to partnering with the organisation to expand the programme to accommodate more children on a long-term basis. “From the onset when we were given a brief outline of what the programme entails, it was an easy decision for us to decide to come on board and we want to thank LFU for inviting us to come on board,” he said.

According to Dean, Guyana seems to have one standard approach to teaching, “… and it is either you succeed or you fail with that approach. It’s nice to see someone trying a slightly different approach, you only have to try these things to know if they are going to be successful.”

Regional Chairman Mortimer Mingo who also spoke as the chairman of the Regional Education Committee noted that for any development to take place in the region, residents must have the requisite skills and knowledge which could only be realised through education.  “That education must not only be seen of persons who would have left the school system and [are] entering the world of work. If we have to talk about persons who are eminently qualified, well trained, certainly [we] have to start from nursery to tertiary,” he said

Mingo was impressed by the fact that the P-CAP has a component that targets parents. He said with the revitalisation of the regional PTA body under the leadership of Pastor Selwyn Sills, there has been significant improvement in the involvement of parents in their children’s academic pursuits.

Meanwhile, Kistlyn Orna of the Linden Foundation Secondary and Melitia Hossanah of the Mackenzie High Schools were presented with one year scholarship awards by the Linden Fund at the launch activity on Tuesday.

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