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Digicel gift enriches Bridgeport Primary

Published:Tuesday | June 19, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer

By 7 o'clock each morning, Angella Francis, manager of the Enrichment Centre at Bridgeport Primary School, is surrounded by enthusiastic students.

However, this was not the case a few months ago as the institution suffered from low literacy rates as the children were not prepared for the primary school curriculum and lacked the resources needed.

In 2010, the results from the school's grade three diagnostic tests showed that only 44 per cent of the cohort had received mastery in reading comprehension and only 22 per cent in communication tasks.

The school applied to the Digicel Foundation for an enrichment centre as it needed a higher-quality remedial solution for its students in order to significantly improve the school's performance at the grade four literacy exam.

"I really appreciate the room because, before, all I had was my voice and charts that I used to make," said Francis. "Now I can let the children use the phonics lab, for example. The room is very interactive and easy to use, so much so that the students can manipulate the equipment themselves."

She added: "I try to keep my room intact so the children know they have their own little oasis here."

In addition to the 70 students enrolled in the Enrichment Centre, eager children flock the facility to take advantage of a book drive at the school aimed at encouraging students to read books outside of their curriculum.

Behavioural changes

Classes in the enrichment room have only been taking place since April, but Francis has already noticed changes in the behaviour of some of the students, including better comportment and increased self-esteem.

"Mrs Francis has been working with the children in small groups relating to literacy development. We have seen literacy developments with our students so far, and they are very enthused about using the room. They are also more open and willing to go to the reading room as opposed to being embarrassed before," Allison Mendez, the school's literacy coordinator, told The Gleaner.

Samantha Chantrelle, executive director of the Digicel Foundation, also expressed her excitement at handing over the Enrichment Centre.

"We believe that all children have the right to an education that is tailored to their needs and allows them to reach their full potential. Through our enrichment initiative, we are going to make sure that every child in our programme has that chance."