With a keen focus on bolstering the reading ability of children, mainly of the Sophia area, the University of Guyana (UG) yesterday launched its 10th annual ‘Reading is Fun’ programme.
The initiative, which has for the past five years seen Courts (Guyana) Inc. investing in excess of $600,000, is one intended to ensure that the target children are given guided access to resources of the University’s library to aid attempts to help improve their reading skills.
Reflecting on the genesis of the initiative in 2003, UG Librarian Gwyneth George said that the programme was one that instantly realised resounding success and therefore was allowed to continue.
She recounted that there was however one year that the programme was not hosted and “there was such a clamour for it that we decided never to do that again.”
But because of the cash-strapped status of the University, George recalled that efforts were made to solicit sponsorship for the programme since it was recognised as an important feature. However, the Librarian noted that it was an “uphill task” to garner needed support.
But according to her, over the past five years, Courts had assumed the challenge to take up the responsibility of sole sponsor for the programme.
“We have engaged in a collaborative venture of co-hosting the ‘Reading is Fun’ programme,” said George as she outlined the theme under which it is being hosted this year – ‘Sharing information and experience through books and the internet’.
The programme, which is currently offered to children between the ages of nine and 13, is hosted annually for a period of three weeks during the summer vacation. These children, according to George, are able to access the library three days per week – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
According to her, each year the programme attracts a significant number of children, and some years have even seen more than 150. However, she disclosed that “what we discovered is that the numbers were unmanageable and we weren’t able to give them the attention they needed, and we felt that the children were taking nothing away from the programme.”
Moreover, the programme this year will cater to 70 children and, according to George, already 61 have registered.
The launch of the programme yesterday was graced by Registrar of the University, Vincent Alexander, who shared his conviction that “the best quality a child could have is to be curious.”
He explained to the children among the gathering that “to be curious is wanting to know…You see something, you want to know about it; you hear something, you want to know about it; that is the best quality a child can have.”
And it was in order to nurture this quality, Alexander said, that the ‘Reading is Fun’ programme was introduced.
“Whether you read a book, a magazine, on the television or on the internet, you are able to exercise your best quality of being curious…because reading will allow you to know.”
But failing to nurture this ability, he noted, could result in persons being labelled “ignorant” or “illiterate”. Moreover, he urged the children to spend their time wisely during the course of the programme so that “you leave here saying that you are not ignorant because you are in the business of knowing; you’re sure you are not illiterate because you are in the business of reading.”
Alexander also lauded the support of Courts for joining the University to help aid the eradication of illiteracy.
Speaking yesterday too, was Managing Director of Courts, Clyde De Haas, who noted that Courts’ contribution is in fact a representation of its corporate social responsibility and will therefore be sustained. He informed those gathered at the launch, which was held in the Learning Resource Centre of the University, that the company is able to continue its support because of its customers’ support over the years.
“I thank everybody for shopping at Courts…This is part of the money that we make that is put aside to give back to the community,” he noted.
De Haas was accompanied by his company’s Manager for Customer Experience, Shonette Bacchus, and Public Relations Officer, Roberta Ferguson.
Yesterday also saw a presentation by Claudette Thompson who has been instrumental in setting up a ‘Reading is Fun’ resource room at the library which the children will be able to access during the course of the programme.
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