Literacy workshop for Berbice students concludes today
Dr Hunte urges teachers to desist from using Creolese, which hinders children’s literacy development From Jeune Bailey Van-Keric
Guyana Chronicle
October 2, 2002

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A THREE-day workshop to improve literacy among Form One students in Regions Five (Mahaica/Berbice) and Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) opened at the Berbice High School on Monday.

The programme, which attracted participants from various secondary schools, was initiated by the Secondary Schools Reform Programme (SSRP) through the Ministry of Education following concerns raised by Headmasters and Headmistresses about the state of reading in the lower forms of the secondary schools.

Director of SSRP Dr Kenneth Hunte in his opening remarks urged teachers to teach and use standard English in their education delivery and to desist from the use of Creolese, which handicaps the development of literacy in children.

He recommended that reading should be time-tabled at all Secondary Schools, where students have a low literacy level.

According to the Director, teachers have avoided addressing the concerns of reading. He, nevertheless, urged them to be supportive in order to assist the students in learning.

"... you cannot blame the Primary School from which the children came. You have to give them the skill to enable them to succeed in development," Hunte said.

He advised teachers to stop attitudes of discriminating against children on the bases of their social origins, what their parents look like, or who they are. “They (the children) have to be treated as human beings, who need opportunities to help them develop," he pointed out.

Dr Hunte told the educators that all teachers must become teachers of reading, and that learning institutions must put systems in place to monitor closely the literacy level of the individual child.

He expressed concern over the high level of illiteracy, which is contributing to the high level of ignorance, indiscipline and anti-social behaviours in the society.

"You only have to see what is happening around you and you can recognise where it is coming from; people are ignorant...they are totally ignorant, and why is it so? Because they are not able to read and understand what are the options they could use to solve their everyday problems," Hunte said.

"They are simply following the leader...someone with the biggest mouth is simply telling them what to do. They don't ask questions. They simply follow and we have got to stop this attitude because we see what it's doing to our society." He admonished.

Deputy Education Officer, Region Six, Mr Claude Johnson, who represented the Regional Education Officer (REO) Mr Nashrullah Khan, said the illiterate are the ones who will live in abject poverty and become misfits in the globalised world.

He emphasised that reading must not be seen as a `frill' in the curriculum, neither must it be taken for granted, as it is the bedrock of academic excellence.

In her brief overview, Senior Subject Specialist Ms Evadne Williams said the 15-hour training programme allows the participants to be better equipped with study techniques to assist with the improvement of the child's literacy level.

Subjects addressed during the seminar include: Literacy and its Implications for the Guyanese Child, Using Information to Prepare Certain Text Formats and The Cognitive Process in Reading and Spelling.

The sessions will conclude with an exhibition and distribution of certificates.

The opening session was chaired by Mr Geofrey Smith, Media Co-ordinator, SSRP.