The Ministry of Education has already begun to reap the benefits of a remedial literacy programme introduced last year to help prepare under-performers of Grade Six for the secondary level of their education.
According to Director of the National Centre for Educational Research and Development, Mohandatt Goolsarran, although the programme was engaged last year there have been some good results thus it has been repeated this year.
He said that when the programme started a pre-test was designed for students ahead of the test in order to determine at what point they are starting, a basis from which a curriculum was devised to guide an action plan for literacy educators.
And the plan, according to Goolsarran, entailed basic skills for literacy, basic handwriting where in some cases it was even anticipated that educators would have to actually hold students’ hands to help them write; they would have to work closely with them to recognise letters of the alphabet in order to read a paragraph or two.
Goolsarran revealed that after the National Grade Six Assessment concluded in April the Ministry conducted tests in 45 schools countrywide for those candidates who completed the assessment.
And according to the Director among the questions detailed in the tests were basic questions that required the candidates to write their names in script, sign their names, write their parents’ names, their telephone numbers and addresses. They were also given a sentence to transcribe as well as a paragraph to read.
But according to Goolsarran a significant number of the candidates prove to be unable to successfully undertake the exercise.
“They were simply asked to write their names in block letters and they couldn’t even write their names. Some wrote for their name numbers. And since they could not go past there nothing else could have been answered,” Goolsarran opined. And so in order to address the evident literacy problem, Goolsarran disclosed that a decision was taken to organise a national effort for Grade Six students who would have failed the annual Grade Six Examination — those who did not achieve 50 percent of the marks required.
“For those children, we are running the literacy programme to help improve their skills of reading and computation so that it could be of such that they benefit and prepare for Secondary School.”
This remedial effort has been ongoing in all public primary schools of the country. He explained that initially the programme was a voluntary one but noted that now teachers are more involved and have already commence remedial sessions with students.
And to encourage the continued support of teachers, Goolsarran said that teachers will be paid a stipend which amounts to half of their monthly salaries.
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