New ap­proach to read­ing in Can­ter­bur y

Jamaica Gleaner - - WESTERN FOCUS - – O.H.

THE AF­TER-SCHOOL aca­demic men­tor­ship pro­gramme for stu­dents who re­sides in the in­ner-city com­mu­nity of Can­ter­bury in Montego Bay, St James, will be tak­ing a new ap­proach to read­ing lessons for the new aca­demic year.

Pas­tor Las­celles Thomas, who over­sees the pro­gramme at the Can­ter­bury Re­demp­tion Chapel, told Western Fo­cus that he has be­come in­creas­ingly con­cerned about the in­abil­ity of some of the young­sters to read, par­tic­u­larly those at the pri­mary-school level. He said some stu­dents were read­ing be­low their grade lev­els and this may have im­pacted this year’s Grade Six Achieve­ment Test re­sults, which were not very high.

Ac­cord­ing to Thomas, as a re­sult, the pro­gramme will now have a spe­cial day solely ded­i­cated to read­ing lessons.

“So come every Satur­day, it will just be for read­ing and get­ting stu­dents to go back to the fun­da­men­tals learnt from ba­sic school. Putting words to­gether, teach­ing be­gin­ning and end­ing sounds and spell­ing words,” said Thomas.

The pas­tor also stated that plans are afoot to in­tro­duce the renowned Hooked on Phon­ics chil­dren ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als in the pro­gramme.

“Some of the chil­dren are al­ready ex­cited about it. They know within them­selves their read­ing abil­ity and the im­pli­ca­tions, so I am look­ing for­ward to pro­vide more as­sis­tance to them this year,” stated Thomas.

The af­ter-school ini­tia­tive has been op­er­at­ing for the past four years and has been in­stru­men­tal in fos­ter­ing ed­u­ca­tional de­vel­op­ment for needy young­sters in the some­times volatile com­mu­nity. The pro­gramme in­cludes a home­work and com­puter cen­tre equipped with 23 com­put­ers do­nated by Univer­sal Ac­cess Ser­vices.

VOL­UN­TEERS

Per­sons liv­ing in and out­side the com­mu­nity vol­un­teer their time to tu­tor ap­prox­i­mately 20 chil­dren each day.

How­ever, Thomas said much more needs to be done to fur­ther pro­mote the growth of the ini­tia­tive. He is cur­rently seek­ing to so­licit book dona­tions and spon­sor­ship from the Montego Bay busi­ness com­mu­nity.

“We would re­ally love for spon­sor­ship, where we can pro­vide some snacks and meals .... that would cer­tainly bring in more chil­dren,” said Thomas, who noted that ex­cept for Univer­sal Ac­cess Ser­vices pay­ing the In­ter­net bill, the church funds ev­ery­thing.

“We are also ap­peal­ing to the com­mu­nity mem­bers that, even if you can’t teach, you can help to keep some form of or­der – just to be there to guide them – and par­ents must show greater sup­port by look­ing at what their chil­dren are do­ing,” Thomas added.

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