…as Education Ministry prepares to deliver literacy programmes
The teaching of literacy by some teachers was yesterday described by Director of the National Centre for Educational Research and Development (NCERD), Mohandatt Goolsarran, as “a case of the blind leading the blind.”
Goolsarran’s comment came during a feature address he made to mark the opening of the second phase of this year’s Fast Track Initiative Literacy Educators’ Basic Course which commenced yesterday at the NCERD auditorium. The training course will continue until Friday.
The Director told the gathering that there are times when persons ask why normal children, after spending six years in schools under the guidance of trained teachers, still leave and in cases cannot recognise their names when it is written; cannot themselves write their names and do not have at their finger tips, basic biographic information about themselves.
“You may say that many of the teachers in the schools are not performing to expectation because we do not have the level of supervision. We have head teachers but many of you know they occupy their office most of the day and hardly are they in the classroom supporting the teachers and guiding the process.”
He speculated that persons may ask whether the teachers in the system are themselves at the level of literacy to teach literacy.
“Facilitators can tell of some experiences we are having with teachers. Many children, after spending a full number of years at primary and secondary schools, leave the school system with very inadequate level of literacy.
“But you can only give what you have and if you do not have the skills you cannot pass it unto the children. Parents in some cases are bright and recognise teachers are marking right work wrong and wrong work right. This is a case of the blind leading the blind,” the Director opined.
He further pointed to the fact that fundamental to developing literacy is access to literacy resources such as books, posters and worksheets, adding that often times children are deprived of these materials.
Goolsarran lamented the fact that children are only allowed to use materials in school because they are locked away in school cupboards and in some cases remain in sealed packages, thus are never even utilised by students.
“We (NCERD) from this end supply the schools with these materials, hoping that they would be in the hands of the children so that they can be used regularly in and out of school, but some schools are in the habit of allowing children to use books in class and at the end of the class they collect them so parents cannot see how much work is actually being done.”
And so in recognition of the fact that the school system is responsible for ensuring that the population reaches a level of literacy that is acceptable by employers and all stakeholders, the Ministry decided to engage the services of literacy educators, Goolsarran disclosed.
He related that over the years the performance of school leavers, particularly in the area of functional literacy, has been examined, a process which has revealed that the school has been failing the expectation of the population.
But in order to effectively address the problem of illiteracy in a holistic manner, Goolsarran pointed out that there is need to raise the level of literacy at the home and community level.
As such he enlightened the educators that their service is required to help reverse some of the bad experiences some school-aged children have had, even as they render support to out-of-school youths and illiterate adults.
“You will be interfacing with young adults and we want you to embrace a humane approach to literacy in a sense that you take them from where they are step by step to a level of literacy because in the long run an uneducated person is always somebody’s slave. They will always be exploited so if you manage to lead these persons into the area of literacy you are affording them a level of freedom where they can make intelligent choices.”
The efforts of the educators will be assisted with back-up support from a literacy team from the Ministry of Education.
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