(PRESS RELEASE) – As part of the OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme (ELP) within the Education Development Management Unit of the OECS Commission, small grants were provided to support school-based reading intervention projects. Sion Hill Government School in St. Vincent chose to combine agriculture with reading to combat years of literacy struggles within the school.
Having received agricultural tools from a prior grant, the Sion Hill Government School was awarded EC $8400 from the ELP Grant funding to develop a reading programme around agriculture. This programme ran for eighteen months and enabled Grade K to Grade 3 students who were having difficulty reading to use their agricultural tools to plant and grow crops as well as develop reading skills through active engagement. Students planted seeds and recorded the progress of growth over time and used their agricultural experiences to create reading and writing materials with stories and journal entries.
Engaging in agriculture activities and simultaneously utilizing suitable vocabulary was more meaningful to the students as they experienced the progress of their plants growing and developing. Testing was carried out before, during and after the programme on the thirty-six student participants, with seven students successfully reaching their appropriate reading levels at the end of the programme. Teachers indicated that another important outcome from the project was the general excitement and interest amongst the children in both the agricultural process and reading.
Ninety (94) schools across the OECS have benefitted from ELP school-based grants of which approximately sixty-three (63) were specific to support reading improvement. A total of $593,341.75 Eastern Caribbean Dollars (XCD) has been disbursed by the ELP as well as the OECS Education Support Project (OESP) to support schools.