Kingston, Jamaica – 1 October 2009: On Thursday, October 1, Digicel Foundation, in partnership with the Ministry of Education will officially handover to Drapers All Age School in Eastern Portland, a newly renovated and equipped Enrichment Room. The Enrichment Rooms, according to Dr. Michele Meredith-Dobbs, Enrichment Initiative Coordinator from the Ministry of Education, will assist the Government in reaching its National Literacy and Numeracy targets. Endorsed by Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, the Ministry of Education intends to reach its target of 100 percent literacy at the primary level by 2015.
“The Digicel Foundation takes pleasure in providing Drapers All Age School with the tools needed, to create a modern, creative and comfortable environment to produce students, who are proficient in their literacy and numeracy skills,’” outlined Major General Robert Neish, Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation. “Digicel Foundation has proven that this initiative can work, as we have seen other schools improve their academic performance, through computer technology and remedial instruction, in Resource Rooms that we have similarly retrofitted. We expect no less from this Enrichment Room at Drapers All Age,” Major Neish concluded.
“Drapers All Age receive students who performed the worst in the GSAT examinations in its Grades 7-9,These students require special attention and assistance in order to learn,” explained Principal Sandra Becca. To tackle this, the school hired two Reading Specialists – one to focus on the weaker students in the general population, while the other doubles as a Special Education Teacher and focus on students with learning and mental disabilities. “These teachers have been working with meagre resources and so with these new tools, and with the training of our teachers on how to use them, we’re expecting significant improvements in our students’ performance, because these students can learn,” asserted Principal Becca.
The school has also implemented a Welfare Programme, a breakfast and lunch program via PATH to assist with alleviating some of the challenges the students and their families face. “We have students coming to school from within a 15 mile radius – from both Portland and St. Mary – and most attend on a regular basis,” commented Principal Becca.
Teachers Karen Bailey and Shoni Wynter underwent an extensive three-month training program, involving representatives of the three main streams of the Ministry of Education, i.e. Literacy, Numeracy and Special Education as well as the Special Educator of Jessie Ripoll Primary School, Sandra Maxwell-Williams. This training is geared towards equipping the teachers with strategies on how to identify and treat each child’s area of weakness and also how to use the various literacy and numeracy software and hardware found in the Enrichment Room.
Dr. Michele Meredith-Dobbs outlined that the new Enrichment Centre is designed for both students who are reading below the respective grade levels and students who are reading above their grade levels and would like more educational challenges that are not presented in the normal classroom context.
The Enrichment Room at Drapers All Age is one of 13 such facilities that has been refurbished and equipped by the Digicel Foundation in conjunction with the Ministry of Education. The rooms are equipped with Information Communication Technologies such as laptops, computers, literacy and numeracy software such as Hooked on Phonics, Early Success, and Master Reader, Hooked on Math, Math Manipulative