CUR­RENT INI­TIA­TIVES TO PRO­MOTE LIT­ER­ACY IN SCHOOLS

Fiji Sun - - Nation -

The gov­ern­ment has recog­nised the role of Early Child­hood Ed­u­ca­tion (ECE) teach­ers. Over the years, we have not only al­lo­cated grants to ac­com­mo­date for the tu­ition of kinder­garten stu­dents but have also in­creased the base salary of ECE teach­ers. We ac­knowl­edge the fact that ECE teach­ers lay the foun­da­tion for at­tain­ing the ba­sic lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy skills.

We have in­tro­duced Jolly Phon­ics and Fan­tas­tic Phon­ics from Year 1 to Year 4. These in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized re­search based strate­gies are fun and multi-sen­sory ap­proaches ideal for all chil­dren above 5 years re­gard­less of their cul­ture, pri­mary lan­guage, so­cio-eco­nomic back­ground and spe­cial needs. Chil­dren learn the 42 plus let­ter sounds, and the blend­ing and seg­ment­ing skills, which help them to read and spell new or un­seen words in­de­pen­dently.

We have re-in­tro­duced na­tional ex­ams in Year 6, Year 8 and Year 10. We have re­alised that hav­ing na­tional ex­ams in a small is­land na­tion such as Fiji will help us scru­ti­nize the pro­fi­ciency level of our stu­dents at each class level.

We have also in­tro­duced the Read­ing and Writ­ing As­sess­ment in Year 1 and Year 2 so that teach­ers can con­tin­u­ously mon­i­tor the progress of their stu­dents and pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate and timely re­me­dial steps to help stu­dents read and write. To im­prove our mon­i­tor­ing and sup­port of lit­er­acy learn­ing in schools, fu­ture plans are to have these Year 1 and Year 2 read­ing and writ­ing progress made avail­able on the Fiji Ed­u­ca­tion Man­age­ment In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem (FEMIS). In ad­di­tion, through this tech­no­log­i­cal pro­fi­ciency, we are em­bark­ing on easy ac­cess to a more re­li­able data on the lit­er­acy stan­dards of our stu­dents, which can be used for in­ter­ven­tion pur­poses at school, District and Na­tional lev­els.

The Year 5 and Year 7 stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in the Lit­er­acy and Nu­mer­acy As­sess­ment (LANA) which as­sesses stu­dents’ ba­sic skills in lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy. LANA, be­ing a na­tional for­ma­tive as­sess­ment, is used as a di­ag­nos­tic tool to iden­tify stu­dents’ strengths and weak­nesses in the key learn­ing ar­eas in lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy to pro­vide nec­es­sary and timely re­me­dial in­ter­ven­tion for stu­dents’ to over­come their weak­nesses. Fu­ture plans are to align our as­sess­ment prac­tices to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards by es­tab­lish­ing na­tional bench­marks for mea­sur­ing and re­port­ing our lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy at­tain­ment in our coun­try. With the help of bench­marks, we hope to iden­tify those stu­dents at risk of fail­ing so that nec­es­sary in­ter­ven­tion can be pro­vided to sup­port these chil­dren and en­sure higher aca­demic suc­cess for all learn­ers.

This year, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion has taken a bold step in launch­ing the Parental En­gage­ment Frame­work whereby we have set up a guide­line for par­ents to mon­i­tor the learn­ing needs of their chil­dren. We have seen that ba­sic en­gage­ment from par­ents such as read­ing bed-time story books can have a huge im­pact in­trans­form­ing the in­ter­est of chil­dren to­wards lit­er­acy and in­still­ing good val­ues in them. Read­ing does not mean that par­ents must start buy­ing books for their chil­dren. The chil­dren can is­sue books from the school li­brary, bor­row old news­pa­pers from school li­brary, read their text books and even read their bi­ble or even holy books.

The lit­er­acy strate­gies for read­ing and writ­ing, train­ing for teach­ers and par­ents, and other use­ful re­sources have also been made avail­able on­line on the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion Web­site (http://www. ed­u­ca­tion.gov.fj) for par­ents and care­givers to take full ad­van­tage and as­sist their chil­dren in the lit­er­acy learn­ing at home. The re­sources avail­able in­clude Jolly Phon­ics teach­ing and learn­ing guide, train­ing and ed­u­ca­tional videos, com­pre­hen­sive gram­mar notes, and other text books com­piled by Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. From last year, we have also up­loaded past years’ exam papers, Examiner’s Re­ports and de­tailed an­swers for ref­er­ence pur­poses. We have al­ways tar­geted to pro­vide all pos­si­ble strate­gies to help stu­dents get ac­cess to qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional re­sources.

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