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What can we do about children who can’t read Jamaica?

 

We have a really big problem with children reading. Last week i observed a few children 6-13 yrs.

  1. We played scrabble
  2. We ask them to choose books that they liked and A-dziko read some with them.

This is what we found.

  • Some children don’t like to sit and read
  • They don’t think reading is important
  • They constantly complain that they can’t say the words
  • Spelling is difficult
  • They don’t read fluently
  • They don’t know many words and have difficulty calling new words
  • The older ones don’t easily recognize the sound letters make. Some don’t know the alphabet
  • In a game of scrabble they made two or three letter words mostly.
  • The ones who couldn’t read wanted to quickly move on to another activity and it seemed they became more disruptive
  • The ones who could read were constantly distracted by the ones who couldn’t.

This is a problem we have written many things about and the Government has gotten lots of money to do studies to understand what the problem is an how to address it. Digicel and USAID has supported Enrichment centres across different schools in the island. The Ministry of Education has made improving literacy a priority. Still we have a growing problem.

In another exercise with the children, we did jigsaw puzzles. i noticed that older children 12+ struggled to fit together a 63 piece jigsaw puzzle meant for 6 yr olds.

We have identified some of the following as pieces of the literacy problem in Jamaican children

  • family support and home context
  • exposure to violence and traumatic experiences
  • Poor nutrition
  • Lack of mental stimulation at an early age
  • Self-perception
  • Relationship with adults in the community
  • Relationship with primary parent

So where do we start addressing literacy in Jamaica? Or how can we create a programme which we can share to quickly intervene in cases where children need help?

 

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