USAID, education ministry aim to improve literacy among parents
JACKS RIVER, St Mary:
Residents of Jacks River community in St Mary have praised an initiative between the United Stated Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Education (MoE), which aims to improve literacy rates in Jamaica by developing a series of communal education centres for disadvantaged parents.
According to the parenting specialist leading the collaborative partnership, Jennifer Brown, the centres, known as 'Parents' Place,' are designed to help parents further their education so they will be better equipped to support their children studying at school.
Speaking at the opening of a new centre at Jacks River Primary School in Oracabessa, Brown told The Gleaner: "The MoE in collaboration with USAID is saying that if we really want to see literacy improve, targeting parent is important.
"Hence, they have requested that in certain areas a Parents' Place be provided, and that is a comfortable space within an organisation such as a school or church where parents can come, learn and feel free to discover new things and impart skills to help the children."
Brown also stressed the importance of targeting parents in rural areas. She said: "If we really want to raise the standard of literacy to 85 per cent by 2016, we really have to come to these 'forgotten' areas where people have less opportunities because of their financial situations"
Doreen Downer, whose son is a grade-one student at Jacks River Primary, said: "I think this is a good idea and very motivating because now we have a place where we can come, read, socialise and talk about any problem."
Tracey-Ann Hunter, whose sister is a grade-three student at the school, added: "This will really help teachers who have it hard because classrooms are full and children have a lot of energy. Some parents will be too proud to come here and say 'I need help because I can't read,' but I hope they take advantage and make it a good thing for their child."
Jacks River Primary's principal, Sha-Haney Froome-Roberts, believes the new centre will help bridge the gap between home and school, and strengthen parent-teacher relations.
She explained: "I've always wanted the parents to be engaged in something that can possibly help them earn a living because a lot of them gamble and don't spend enough time with their children.