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blink | bmobile supports UNESCO Programme for Form One students

Teachers and principals share the works books of their students as they monitor progress of the students benefitting from UNESCO’s Leading for Literacy and Numeracy training

“It is important that our young men and women are able to read and do mathematics. However, the importance of learning is more than academic for they must be able to function in everyday life. As teachers, librarians and principals, we must always see the bigger picture because it’s the overall person that we are trying to improve so they can live more meaningfully in our society.” These words were part of the opening comments delivered by Dr Avril Siung-Chang, Deputy Chair of the National Commission for UNESCO during the First Recall Meeting of the Leading For Literacy and Numeracy – Form One Project held at the Radisson Hotel, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain on January 9th 2014. The theme of the First Recall meeting was ‘Changing Students’ Lives!’ and included principals, teachers and librarians participating in the reading and mathematics improvement project for Form One students at (40) schools throughout the country.

The Leading for Literacy and Numeracy – Form One project aims to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of (5,720) Form One students who scored less than 30% in the 2014 SEA Examination and are now enrolled at (40) secondary schools. The project is a joint effort of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Ministry of Education with the blink I bmobile Foundation and other corporate sponsors. The programme was launched during the August 2014 school vacation period and commenced with a week of training for (40) principals and (80) teachers from the targeted secondary schools. The $TTD 1.2 million project will run until July 2015 and has a comprehensive threepronged approach: leadership skills training for the principals, instructional skills training for the teachers and literacy skills training for parents at the home. The focus of the first recall meeting was to get feedback from the participating schools on the impact of the training to date.

During the morning period, many of the teams of principal, teachers and librarians from the (40) participating schools presented on the work they did at their schools so far. Samples of students’ notebooks and work were also on display. Some of the activities implemented in the schools were reading readiness pre-tests to gauge the reading competency of each student and facilitate reading plans for the students, read-aloud sessions by school staff, read-a-book competitions, word search puzzles, word walls, visits by celebrity guest speakers to the schools’ libraries and the use of poetry, song and graphic novel clubs in which the Form One students were asked to create their own superheroes and write a story around them.

All the schools reported that the students were more enthusiastic about reading, read many more books than before, spent more time at the libraries and showed an expansion in their vocabulary. The afternoon session was spent planning for the second term of the project. Jennifer Razack- Hosein, Vice Principal at Chaguanas South Secondary was one of the presenters and shared how the previous leadership training helped her. She noted “I found the leadership training was excellent as it reminded us of the importance of team effort and taught us team building skills.” Razack- Hosein continued “The programme has definitely benefitted my school because I have witnessed more boys participating in library and reading activities and the Form One boys are reading a larger quantity of books than the Form One girls. This is truly remarkable because in the past boys were the ones who did not like to read and participate. I have been seeing real results.”

Expressing her joy at the success of the programme to date and her appreciation for the support of the blink bmobile Foundation, Elizabeth Crouch, Project Leader and Head, Education Sector Committee, Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO noted “We have seen the principals, teachers and librarians return to their schools enthused and armed with new tools to deliver education. I’ve been to a few of the secondary schools and when I walk into their libraries I can see how they have been transformed. I was compelled to go to the librarians to commend them on the excellent work that was done. I feel very satisfied that we have accomplished so much and got this far.” Camille Campbell, blink I bmobile’s Chief Marketing Officer (Ag) congratulated all the educators on the marvelous work done so far and shared that the blink I bmobile Foundation was honoured to be a partner on the reading and mathematics improvement project “The blink I bmobile foundation is all about the development of our nation’s youth. It is satisfying to see the hard work that is being put into improving our nation’s education system. We are proud to be a part of this important programme and will continue to support its expansion as much as we can.”

Kamella Carmino, Librarian II, Educational Library Services Division at the Trinidad and Tobago National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) extended a special commendation to the schools’ library staff and noted “We have been seeing a difference in the level of reading and interest in books among our nation’s students because of this project. There has also been a lot of collaboration among the schools to an extent that we have never seen before. As we go into this second term of the project, we look forward to many more exciting days.” Also speaking at the meeting were Rosemarie Grant, Schools Supervisor who represented Harrilal Seecharan, Chief Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Susan Shurland, Secretary General, National Commission for UNESCO. Both also thanked all the stakeholders and educational teams for their continuous hard work and commitment to the programme.

Teachers and principals share the works books of their students as they monitor progress of the students benefitting from UNESCO’s Leading for Literacy and Numeracy training

The hardworking team of the ministry of Education and UNESCO responsible for the “Leading for Literacy and Numeracy Programme supported by blink | bmobile Foundation