Georgetown, Guyana — (March 7, 2018) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger said that literacy is the backbone of a child’s education, which grants him or her the keys to future success, in her keynote address at the opening of the Inaugural Literacy Conference, which was held on Monday morning at the St. Francis Community Developers Conference Centre in Port Mourant, Corentyne, Berbice. The Conference is being hosted by the East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) Department of Education, with assistance from overseas-based Guyanese professors from the Medgar Evers College, City University of New York, Professor Ivor Barker and Dr. Clinton Crawford, with the overall goal of improving literacy rates in the region.

The First Lady said that, “Our children must be given the tools and the opportunity to expand their minds and their horizons, regardless of where they may live in Guyana or their social or economic background… The starting point of education – learning to speak, to understand, and to respond to data in all its shapes and forms and the development in each child the capacity to express her on his thoughts and feelings – begins with literacy, which, for the purpose of this exercise, encompasses literacy and numeracy.”

She also noted that improved literacy and education are essential to the development of Guyana, a vision that President David Granger had expressed even before taking office in 2015. “Just over five years ago, President Granger, in his charge to graduating students of the Cyril Potter College of Education, spoke about the creation of an ‘Education Nation’ – “one in which intelligence prevails over ignorance, cooperation over confrontation, and national integration over communal disintegration.” He recognises that the development of our country and the full participation of every citizen in that development must be driven by an educated citizenry,” Mrs. Granger said.

Meanwhile, Regional Education Officer, East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six), Ms. Volika Jaikishun, expressed similar sentiments, adding that literacy can improve one’s quality of life. “Literacy is not only an important factor for economic development, but also it is necessary for one to function effectively in one’s community… Research has shown that persons who are literate are able to live better lives in society. I’m sure that this conference is not only a developmental session for teachers, but also a form of motivation that can contribute to effective teaching in the classroom,” she said.

As part of the exercise, one teacher from every primary school in Region Six, one reading teacher from each secondary school, and transitional Grade Six teachers will undergo training to enhance their abilities in the teaching and supervision of literacy programmes.

Regional Literacy Coordinator, East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six), Ms. Simone Dainty said she hopes that this Conference, which is held annually, will result in steady increases in the Grade Six Assessment pass rates in the years to come. Region Six received a 40 percent pass rate in 2017’s National Grade Six Assessment, a six percent increase from its 2016 scores.

In addition, 150 teachers, regional literacy coordinators and former educators can expect to benefit from presentations on various literacy-based topics, including Classroom Monitoring, Critical Literacy and Textual Analysis, the Use of Technology in the Classroom and the Relevance of Culture in the Classroom. Mayor of New Amsterdam, Her Worship, Winifred Haywood also attended the event.

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