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100 Teachers Enriched By Digicel Foundation, JA

OCHO RIOS, St Ann:DIGICEL FOUNDATION and the Ministry of Education chose Ocho Rios, St Ann, as the location to continue its enrichment initiative for primary-school teachers with a two-day seminar recently.

One hundred teachers, representing 50 schools from across the island, spent the time upgrading their skills using the technology provided by the telecoms giant. The technology is expected to aid in curriculum delivery as teachers continue the work to improve literacy among primary-school students.

“What we have here today are teachers who are mobile-enrichment cart users,” explained Dr Michele Meredith, special education project coordinator in the ministry’s Education System Transformation Programme.

“The idea is that at the end of the day, we should see greater gains in literacy because the teachers themselves will be exposed to additional competencies.”

The initiative was started in 2009 when Digicel Foundation partnered with the Ministry of Education to use technology to increase literacy at the primary-school level.

HELPING 50 SCHOOLS

Last year, the foundation pledged to assist 50 schools in observance of Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence and invited the public to submit schools which they believed needed help in dealing with illiteracy. The 50 were chosen from a list of more than 200 schools.

The initiative sees Digicel Foundation providing computers, software, literacy tools, and material, and the ministry being responsible for training teachers in how best to use the technology to deliver the curriculum.

The training also enables teachers to identify, at an early stage, students who are having difficulty learning. These students are then exposed to additional learning plans using the technology.

Over the four years since the initiative started, 31 enrichment centres have been established in primary schools, in addition to 74 enrichment-cart schools, which are scaled-down versions of enrichment centres.

Programme manager at Digicel Foundation, Kerry-Jo Lyn, said the programme has seen tremendous results so far.

“What we have seen, when we do an evaluation, is an average improvement (in literacy) of two grade levels for students participating in the programme. We have some students improve by five grade levels within a year,” Lyn said.

“A student at the beginning will be at primary and pre-primary and by the end of even the first term, he would be able to recognise his name, and it’s a remarkable thing to see,” she added.

Lyn said the partnership with the ministry had been “really good” over the years and has been expanded to include the Camara Jamaica Foundation, which is providing laptops with literacy software.

“We are looking to expand the enrichment programme significantly over the next three years,” Lyn said.