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#BTColumn – An urgent call for literacy renewal

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by Walter Edey

Reading, writing and considering have all the time been vital transformative tools, skills and human development life lines. They’re assets of education, learning, entertainment pleasure and fun. They assist one to raised understand one’s world, make connections, and construct relationships.

More importantly, being literate makes one an energetic participant and contributor to the prosperity of 1’s family, community and society.  When literacy is unattended, everyone seems to be in danger.    

The late Dr. Leonard Shorey, an education reformer, chaired an education commission within the early Seventies. The commission discovered that primary school students had very poor reading skills and the report argued: if students can’t read, they are going to not find a way to do well in other subjects that need reading skills.

Moreover, if this deficiency is left unattended, it’s going to compromise their academic, vocational, and social future. Fifty-two years later, after that public shame was decreed by an educator who never minced his words, literacy standards have continued to say no at a faster rate.

What should Barbadians do now that the literacy pigeon has long left its coop? This crisis, like many other things in life, presents two decisions: complain and play the blame game, or work together to search out an answer.

This can be a high bar for a lot of. The inherited plantation mindset doesn’t welcome cooperation. It strives on individual performance and success. Nevertheless, trusting the experience of others as shown by research is one of the best bet. There is no such thing as a must debate anything or reinvent the wheel.

Here is why a collaborative effort can work. Reading is greater than just an activity that happens in a classroom. Studies have shown that, for instance, “instilling a love of books and reading from birth is a wonderful solution to introduce reading to children.

Reading one-on-one to children apparently is nurturing and helps develop the connection between parent and child while also encouraging a positive connection between children and books; and top-of-the-line activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills, it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory.” Indeed, researchers posit that reading aloud to a baby sets the stage for college readiness by increasing awareness of the art of reading.

In response to analyses of the PISA exam (Programme for International Student Assessment), which is given to 15-year-olds worldwide, the most important factor influencing higher scores was whether or not a baby was read to frequently after they were young.

Moreover, since there may be also evidence that implies reading to a baby from the time it’s within the womb opens up the world for the kid, then the parent who reads to their child will contribute to its performance on achievement tests just like the 11 plus exam.

Besides family, the church community, due to biblical teaching, must also be challenged to play a job within the literacy renewal drive. Reading is neither restrictive nor selfish to a specific style of literature.

The Bible advocates that Christian men ought to be reading men. Within the story in Acts chapter 8 verses 29 – 31, an Ethiopian eunuch was reading a passage from Isaiah, the old testament, while he was travelling on a chariot. He was reading about shearing wool and the slaughtering of lambs.

Likelihood is that he could have been wondering how he could break the cycle of injustice and humiliation that happens to employees like him.

A fellow passenger named Philip who was much more widely read, asked the Eunuch if he understood what he was reading. The Eunuch said that one could only understand after receiving instruction. What an attractive lesson of and for all times!

Other than the theology best explained by trained theologians, the story exemplifies and amplifies reading – and by extension writing, as energetic contributors to consciousness, to private growth and maturity.

Imagine, an Ethiopian Eunuch who worked for a Queen of Sheba reimagining a story got greater than he bargained for or expected. Having accepted responsibility for his own learning, the motion he took attracted attention after which later his life was elevated. The crisis of his constrained circumstances could have revealed the leaks and cracks in his life, however the said cracks permitted the flow of information that took him up the rungs of life.

Such is the character of crisis. If understood it’s a blessing because it begets regeneration of self after which others. Renewal releases passion, purpose and vision. It should initiate deep study and continuous reflection. As people experience success, understanding results in actions that change self and the world around them. Renewal is the luminance that follows motion quite than debate.

Literacy advocates must no less than champion:

1. A Classroom environment that’s wealthy with books and reading materials.

2. Book recycling, and book drives.

3. Awards and rewards for teachers, parents, authors and adults who read to children of all ages.

4. A National Readers Association that promotes reading and writing on purpose as a Barbadian lifestyle. A company that may engage and support book clubs, reading circles. readathons, walkathons for reading, and summer reading festivals, amongst other things.

Walter Edey is a retired math and science educator in Barbados and New York.

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