New approach to reading in Canterbury
The after-school academic mentorship programme for students who resides in the inner-city community of Canterbury in Montego Bay, St James, will be taking a new approach to reading lessons for the new academic year.
Pastor Lascelles Thomas, who oversees the programme at the Canterbury Redemption Chapel, told Western Focus that he has become increasingly concerned about the inability of some of the youngsters to read, particularly those at the primary-school level. He said some students were reading below their grade levels and this may have impacted this year's Grade Six Achievement Test results, which were not very high.
According to Thomas, as a result, the programme will now have a special day solely dedicated to reading lessons.
"So come every Saturday, it will just be for reading and getting students to go back to the fundamentals learnt from basic school. Putting words together, teaching beginning and ending sounds and spelling words," said Thomas.
The pastor also stated that plans are afoot to introduce the renowned Hooked on Phonics children educational materials in the programme.
"Some of the children are already excited about it. They know within themselves their reading ability and the implications, so I am looking forward to provide more assistance to them this year," stated Thomas.
The after-school initiative has been operating for the past four years and has been instrumental in fostering educational development for needy youngsters in the sometimes volatile community. The programme includes a homework and computer centre equipped with 23 computers donated by Universal Access Services.
Persons living in and outside the community volunteer their time to tutor approximately 20 children each day.
However, Thomas said much more needs to be done to further promote the growth of the initiative. He is currently seeking to solicit book donations and sponsorship from the Montego Bay business community.
"We would really love for sponsorship, where we can provide some snacks and meals .... that would certainly bring in more children," said Thomas, who noted that except for Universal Access Services paying the Internet bill, the church funds everything.
"We are also appealing to the community members that, even if you can't teach, you can help to keep some form of order - just to be there to guide them - and parents must show greater support by looking at what their children are doing," Thomas added.