Waterford Primary School in Waterford, St. Catherine will officially open its Enrichment Room refurbished and equipped by the Digicel Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Education. “The Enrichment Centre was refurbished and equipped by the Digicel Foundation to enrich Waterford Primary School’s performance in Literacy and meet the Ministry of Education 2015 national literacy target of 85%,” outlined Major General Robert Neish, Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation.
Waterford Primary is a shift school and was challenged with not having enough literacy resources for its students. In 2008, the school achieved a 74% pass rate in the Grade 4 Literacy Exams without adequate resources and with the new Enrichment at the school, the Principal, Mr. Rohan Walker believes that the students will perform better, “Imagine now that we have gotten the room and the equipment we expect to get better results in the Grade 4 Literacy Exam and for students passes in the GSAT Exam,” explained Walker.
The school is faced with the challenge of receiving Grade 1 students, where at least 90% of them are at the non-starter level; meaning that they are unable to read at all. Last year, the school engaged in a pull out programme with 44 of its Grade 1 students who were all at the non-starter level and 81 % of the youngsters have begun to read it their grade level. “It is interesting to see how well these students have progressed without any specific literacy resources to aid in their educational development,” expressed Administrator of the Digicel Foundation, Eleen Rankine.
Two teachers, Hyacinth Salmon and Jasmine Myers are currently being trained in an in-depth programme involving the three main streams of the Ministry of Education, i.e. Literacy, Numeracy and Special Education and 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 & numeracy software and hardware.
Come September, 2009 the Enrichment Centre will be into full operation and is expecting some 280 students who are reading below their respective grade levels. Dr. Michele Meredith from the Education Transformation Project in the Ministry of Education 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 Centre at Waterford Primary is one of 13 such facilities to be 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 Audio-Visual Headsets, TV Sets, DVD Players, among other electronic equipment.