OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme advances culturally relevant content

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OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme advances culturally relevant content

By OECS
In an effort to ensure that early grade readers in the OECS have access to a wide range of developmental and culturally relevant books, the OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme (ELP) developed the Write to Read programme to create locally authored reading resources.

The Write to Read programme began as an OECS/USAID ELP competition in 2019 to provide a unique opportunity for local authors of all ages to create children’s literature for early grade readers.

In December 2019, authors from four OECS Member States Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada received first to third-place prizes in Children’s, Teachers and Other Adults categories.

The Programme is currently publishing 43 entrants’ books in print and electronic book formats for distribution and use in OECS Member State (MS) schools in the coming school year.

The OECS/USAID ELP recognizes the tremendous shortage of culturally relevant books in schools across the OECS. Building on the work of organisations such as Hands Across the Sea, the ELP will provide schools with culturally relevant student books and teaching materials.

These types of books engage young learners and contribute to the enhancement of local culture and traditions. Research in education continues to underscore how access to engaging and culturally relevant reading resources is a significant factor in sustaining students’ motivation and interest in reading.

Speaking on the Write to Read programme, Reading Specialist at the OECS/USAID ELP, Lisa Sargusingh-Terrence stated: “The ELP could think of no better source for children’s books than the children, parents, teachers and other members of the Caribbean community. Therefore, we invited K – 3 students, teachers, and community members to create or co-create culturally relevant children’s books for use in the classroom. With 20 students participating, the ‘Write to Read’ initiative has helped students learn writing strategies that authors employ such as idea generation, drafting, sharing, and critiquing with peers, revising and editing. The printing and distribution of almost 51,000 locally/regionally-authored books is a significant undertaking. These books contribute to a regional library of reading material that will support the development of a culture of reading in OECS classrooms and homes.”

Since its inception, the OECS/USAID ELP has supported the development of excellent pedagogy and instruction for early grade readers with an effort to ensure increased access to engaging and culturally relevant reading resources. In addition to the upcoming publication and printing of Write to Read texts, the ELP purchased and delivered over 12,700 culturally relevant texts to classrooms across the OECS Member States in March 2019.

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