Earlier this year, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Education’s Parenting Pilot Project “USAID/MOE Parent-School Partnerships for Improved Literacy Outcomes” held its closing ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. The event hosted more than two hundred parents, teachers and students from Regions 1, 4 & 6 to recognize the successes under this project.
The USAID/MOE parenting project began in January 2013 and established 60 sixty Parents’ Places within schools across the island. The Parents’ Places, equipped with computers, books and a television set, gives parents the opportunity to interact more with their children and teachers on a one-on-one basis. This entails using the place as a homework center, also allowing parents to enhance their own academic studies with private sessions conducted by the schools’ teachers. This initiative, the first of its kind in Jamaica, is to strengthen the ties between parents, students and teachers.
“This was a new learning experience for us’ said Margaret Bolt, Project Director at the Ministry of Education. “However, USAID/Jamaica never left the Ministry to walk alone in the implementation of this project. Instead the USAID team ran with us every step of the way through its capacity building and many hours of work in the field engaging the 60 schools.”
Speaking at the closing ceremony USAID/Jamaica’s Mission Director, Denise A. Herbol highlighted the importance of a parent’s involvement in a child’s education. “When USAID/Jamaica responded to the call to improve reading skills in primary grades for 100 million children worldwide by 2015, we knew a key component would be strengthening ties with parents. This component blends well with goal one of the USAID Education Strategy (2011-2015), which includes greater engagement, accountability, and transparency by communities and the public with our parents as key partners. Academic research finds that parents play a key role in encouraging students to read after school at home. We believe strongly that with parental support for after school reading, together we will achieve the goal of 85% literacy in Jamaica by 2015.”
In addition to the establishment of the Parents’ Place, USAID donated a Grade One Classroom Library with 150 reading books to each school to facilitate improving the reading skills of students with a focus at the Grade 1 level. This was complimented by a Teacher Literacy Kit for the grade one teachers and a Grade 1 Book Bag (with at least 3 books) for parents to read with children at home.
The project, which ran from January 2013 to March 2014, trained more than 130 grade one teachers and principals in how to better engage parents, and to assist with home literacy activities and strategies for helping those grade one students whose parents have limited literacy skills. In addition, results show approximately 3,000 grade one parents attended an engagement activity at their child’s school as a result of this project.
Modeling best practices from this project the Ministry of Education has now taken full ownership of this initiative and will expand this activity to at least another 390 schools
Last updated: January 20, 2016