Students in ZOSOs with Literacy Challenges Poised to ‘LEAP’ These Barriers

Students in ZOSOs with Literacy Challenges Poised to ‘LEAP’ These Barriers

Students at six secondary schools in communities declared Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) are poised to benefit from the Literacy Education Acceleration Programme (LEAP) pilot, being implemented by the Ministry of Education and Youth. The beneficiary institutions are the Corporate Area-based Haile Selassie High School, Norman Manley High School, Kingston High School, and Holy Trinity High School, in the Ministry’s Region One.

The other two are the St. James-based Spot Valley High School and Westmoreland’s Grange Hill High School, in the Ministry’s Region Four.

Students at these institutions with literacy challenges will benefit from comprehensive intervention under LEAP.

The schools are among 15 identified under the Ministry’s Citizen Security Plan of Jamaica, which was developed as part of a national approach to provide support and opportunities to the most vulnerable students in ZOSO communities .

These are Greenwich Town, Denham Town, August Town, and Parade Gardens in the Corporate Area; Mount Salem and Glendevon in St. James, and Savanna-la-Mar in Westmoreland.

The pilot, which was officially launched at Holy Trinity High School on Tuesday (May 2), is being undertaken in collaboration with the European Union (EU) and Citizen Security Secretariat.

Over six weeks, the target students will be engaged in utilising a software application called ‘Arrow’, which enables them to develop their literacy skills through technology and teacher facilitation. They will undergo 10 hours of contact time, beginning the week of May 15.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, in her keynote address said LEAP will address one component of the Citizen Security Plan.

“Three vital areas of focus for this strategy were identified. [They are] behaviour, literacy and attendance. This morning’s launch is focusing on the literacy aspect,” she stated.

“We have recognised that, at the secondary level, many students need additional support, hence this programme is an important demonstration of a collaborative response to addressing the challenges faced by our educational institutions located in targeted volatile spaces,” Minister Williams further stated.

For his part, the Ministry’s Acting Director of Safety and Security in Schools, Richard Troupe, said based on the findings of the pilot, upon completion it will be decided whether to implement LEAP in the nine remaining institutions.

“We’re training 24 persons… 18 educators, two persons from the Regional Offices and two technical officers engaged by the EU technical assistance team,” he told JIS News.

Mr. Troupe emphasised that the intervention is crucial to students in these communities, as acts of crime and violence interrupt their academic performance and school attendance.

“So, we know that concentrated efforts need to be committed to the ZOSOs because of the volatility of the space and the difficulty of our students to remain focused,” he said.

Meanwhile, Head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica, Belize, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Cayman Islands, Her Excellency Ambassador Marianne Van Steen, said “going back to basics and back to education remains essential” in tackling crime and violence.

“When we try to prevent crime and violence, we do not only look at law enforcement. Law enforcement is important but the social interventions cannot be forgotten, because it all starts with children and social [and] structural issues that are embedded in society,” she said.

Against that backdrop, Principal of Grange Hill High School, Trevine Donaldson Lawrence, welcomed the programme as a “light in the tunnel” that will bolster the institution’s efforts.

“Approximately 60 per cent of our students coming in at the start of their academic year are reading below their grade level. Some are as low as what we call ‘non-starters’, meaning they don’t know numbers or letters,” she disclosed.

Consequently, Ms. Lawrence declared that “I strongly believe with this added support [using] the Arrow software, we will, indeed, have our students being, not just literate but at the end of it leaping and celebrating as we harness the Ministry’s mantra of ‘every child can learn, every child must learn… and no child left behind’.


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