Ministry of Education, Guyana

Wednesday, 11 September 2013 09:53

Tremendous response to literacy initiative ‘Drop everything and read’

Children and Parents of Region 6 reading Children and Parents of Region 6 reading Ministry of Education Facebook Page

Tremendous response to literacy initiative ‘Drop everything and read’ – hundreds of books given out

The ‘Drop everything and read’ initiative to promote literacy, has received overwhelming response from children, government officials, the public and other stakeholders as they joined in reading at 11:00hrs today.
Head of State Donald Ramotar was also involved in the literacy drive as he read from a book titled ‘Doing Business in Guyana’ at the Office of the President this morning, joining other staffers of the presidential complex in promoting the initiative, in observance of World Literacy Day, September 8.

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Education Ministry erected tents at its 21 and 68 Brickdam locations where members of the public and school children were able to receive books, on a variety of topics. There were also tents at the National Library and at Camp and Regent Streets however the latter had to be closed because of the overwhelming response.
During the morning session, Education Minister Priya Manickchand visited the locations where she also assisted in handing out books.

School visit
The Minister first visited Stella Maris Primary, her alma mater, and while there, she listened to the students reading. Minister Manickchand also left a package of grade specific books for the school’s reading room. Others including maths and science books will also be forthcoming.

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While addressing the students, teachers and representatives of the Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA), the Minister recognised that the school is doing well, and for it to remain that way, it would depend on the stakeholders.
“This education business is a partnership…it is the government who must be interested in making sure that you are educated, it’s the Ministry of Education who has to put out the policy and programmes and then its your teachers that have to come and teach it and then we have parents who must do their part and then there is you,” she said. The Minister likened the process to that of a relay race where all the participants have a role to play.
In this regard, the Minister emphasised that the President and his Cabinet are absolutely sure that they want children to learn and this is reflected in education being high on the list of priorities. “In fact it’s the sector that gets the most money and money translates in us being able to give you services,” she posited.

While the Ministry and teachers have their specific roles, Minister Manickchand encouraged the students to attend school regularly and punctually, to be respectful to their teachers and disciplined.
She acknowledged that parents are the most influential persons in their children’s lives; hence they are full partners with Ministry.

Book distribution
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony presented a complete set of the Guyana Classics to Minister Manickchand while she was at the book distribution tent erected in front of the 21 Brickdam office.
Minister Anthony noted that while there was a previous presentation of books which was just a symbolic occasion, his Ministry will be sending to the Education Ministry 100 sets of the books for distribution to schools around the country. This is in addition to other books the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport has handed out to schools over the last two to three years.

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“We want to join the Ministry of Education in supporting this message to get more people to read and enjoy the joys of reading because through reading you can gain a lot of information and knowledge…it makes no sense that if you know to read and you don’t read it’s the same thing like somebody who is illiterate, so let’s use that skill that we all have, and let’s spend some time reading,” Minister Anthony urged.
While expressing appreciation for the collection of books, Minister Manickchand recognised that they are a good symbol of the work of Guyanese writers.

Meanwhile the Minister noted that she was inspired by the entire effort, as it indicates that the Ministry did something the country wanted. She stressed that the turn out and support by other entities was greater than expected.

Panel discussion
Prior to the 11:00hrs timeline set to drop everything and read, Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam and Regional Director (ag) of the Commonwealth Youth Programme and Chair of the Board of Governors of the Bishop’s High School, Glenyss James stopped in at the studios of the National Communications Network (NCN) for a short discussion on literacy.
Sam emphasised that the education system is constantly working on the task of ensuring everyone is literate however, it is not just a duty of the Ministry of Education, but it has to be a country-wide initiative. “Everybody has to recognise the importance of literacy in their lives and that’s way we initiated the give a book campaign,” he said.
Sam illustrated that being media literate is also important for people so that they would be able to understand the messages being disseminated by the media. This is a skill that should be developed over time along with the other types of literacies and these should support what is being done in the classroom.
James noted that in the past literacy meant being able to read and having the necessary numeracy skills however, due to the emergence of technology and social media, young people are now required to be able to text and use social networks. “Regardless of whatever social media there is and how developed they might be – at the core of that is a fundamental ability to have the basic skills of reading,” she said.
She acknowledged that parents need to take a more active role in ensuring their children know to read, and it is not the Education Ministry’s sole responsibility.

Drop everything and read
As scheduled, at 11:00am today, Minister Manickchand dropped everything and read on live television. After her reading she was followed by several television and radio personalities including the Chief Executive Officer (ag) of the National Communications Network (NCN) Michael Gordon, and other staff including Merano Isaacs, Nerisa Pearson and Keane McRae.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy and his staff also dropped everything and read about various topical issues.

Article and images compliments of GINA.

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