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5,720 Form 1 students to benefit from blink I bmobile sponsored UNESCO Literacy Project

blink | bmobile's Rhonda Lee Yhapp - EVP Marketing Ag (far left) and Ronald Walcott, CEO (far right) present $150,000.00 to the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO's Secretary General, Susan Shurland and Elizabeth Crouch, Project Leader and Head, Education Sector Committee

“Benjamin Franklin once said ‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn’. This programme of learning by the creation of positive experiences for Form 1 students will ensure they are involved in their own learning and will deliver the desired result of transforming the learning process into one that enables these students to chart a course for success throughout their lives.” TSTT’s CEO Ronald Walcott shared these thoughts as he happily presented a cheque from the blink | bmobile Foundation to sponsor the UNESCO’s Leading for Literacy and Numeracy – Form One Programme on October 7th 2014 at the TSTT Head Office on Independence Square. The donation will go towards the programme’s training workshops and was accepted by Elizabeth Crouch, Project Leader and Head, Education Sector Committee, Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO and its Secretary General, Susan Shurland.

The Leading for Literacy and Numeracy project aims to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of almost six thousand Form One students who scored less than 30% in the 2014 SEA Examination. These students are distributed among forty (40) secondary schools. The training project is a joint effort of UNESCO, the Ministry of Education, blink | bmobile Foundation and other sponsors and provides training for forty (40) school principals and eighty (80) Form 1 teachers, forty (40) schools’ Librarians and Mathematics Teachers and Heads of Departments from the selected secondary schools.

The Leading for Literacy and Numeracy Programme has previously focused on training to improve the reading standards among all the Infant One and Infant Two pupils i.e. 5 and 6 years of age in 2013. The results of the 2013 project showed that it was a successful model for promoting literacy among vulnerable children in Trinidad and Tobago. The 2014 Programme has a comprehensive three-pronged approach: leadership skills for the principals; instructional skills for the teachers, librarians and department heads; and parenting for literacy skills for the home. It is expected that the children will learn to read at grade level when they are supported by both the school and parents at home. Since the completion of the training aspect of the programme, the project is being implemented at the (40) selected schools and will run until July 2015.

Expressing his satisfaction at the success of the programme to date, TSTT CEO Ronald Walcott stated “The blink | bmobile Foundation has a mandate to support the positive development of our nation’s youth through education, sport, culture and health. We are proud to be a partner in this very important programme and we look forward to the continued success of the (5,720) Form One students during the year-long programme and beyond.”

Both Shurland and Crouch thanked the blink | bmobile Foundation for sponsoring the training workshops. Shurland noted “We have seen the principals, teachers and librarians return to their schools armed with new tools to deliver education and the enthusiasm to implement what they learned. Many of their Form 1 students are struggling readers. This programme will help appeal to them in new and engaging ways.”

Crouch agreed and continued, “There were very specific learning objectives during the training and at the end there were also certain deliverables that had to be fulfilled during the course of the school year. All the training participants have committed to implementing their deliverables.” Citing Princes Town West Secondary School as one success story of real benefits already arising from the training, Crouch shared “Princes Town West has already implemented some of their learning objectives. They welcomed the incoming Form 1 students into their library programme and did the diagnostic pre-test to collect baseline data on the reading level of the students. They decorated the inside and outside of the library and created a Facebook page to appeal to the Form 1 age group. They started a graphic novel club to encourage their students to read and express themselves through comics and art and are about to commence read-aloud lunchtime sessions. In essence they have begun the process of transforming their library into a warm and welcoming place for the school children.”