Reading revolution at Seaview Gardens Primary

Grade three students eagerly participate in a reading pop quiz led by Seaview Gardens Primary School Principal Sangieanna Reid-Prince.

    TEACHERS at Seaview Gardens Primary School are celebrating a significant improvement in their students' literacy levels just months into a comprehensive initiative funded by Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation.

    The three-year, $8-million programme, launched in September 2022 to combat the learning loss suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, is already delivering remarkable returns on the investment.

    Seaview Gardens Primary School Vice-Principal Beverley Dailey is the senior staff member overseeing the initiative. Discussing the initiative's impact, Dailey pointed to improved student literacy and confidence. Additionally, reading has become the preferred pastime for many students enrolled in the programme.

    "The changes we have seen with our students in just a few months are overwhelming. Their reading has improved, but even more surprisingly we have noticed a general improvement in their overall behaviour. They are more focused in other classes and show greater discipline generally. I can confidently say this programme is an excellent start, and I know that by the end of the year we will see much more improvements," Dailey said.

      Seaview Gardens Primary School literacy teacher Suiaya Salmon (left) and D&G Foundation accountant Dennis Beckford (right) lead a group of grade one students through a quick phonics activity. The activity took place in one of two D&G Foundation-funded reading rooms at the institution.

        Under the programme, two rooms at the school have been dedicated for reading, one for grades one to three and another for the upper school. Several testing instruments are used to identify students who are performing below the required levels. These students are then grouped according to reading levels (regardless of age) to learn and practise together. Among the positive results so far are more confident students who comfortably participate in classes with their equally matched peers.

        "The D&G Foundation has spent three million of the $8 million that we pledged to the programme. Most of that $3 million has gone towards preparing the reading rooms and buying equipment. It was important for us to not only fund the initiative, but also create spaces that the children would be happy to be in every day," said D&G Foundation accountant Dennis Beckford.

        "It warms my heart to see how well the students are doing. If so much has changed in only a few months, I'm excited to see what we will accomplish over the three-year lifespan of this programme. Education is the vehicle that will allow these students to overcome many of the challenges they and their families face. This is why the D&G Foundation continues to invest in human capital development for Jamaicans of all ages," added Beckford.

        Teachers at Seaview Gardens Primary are not the only ones celebrating the programme's initial success.

          Alvarene Daley (right) and her seven-year-old grandson, Shaquille Hinds, enjoy reading a book together in the grades one to three reading room at Seaview Gardens Primary School.

            Alvarene Daley's seven-year-old grandson Shaquille is one of the standout students in the literacy programme. She beamed with pride as she shared his progress so far.

            "Shaquille didn't finish basic school because of COVID so when the programme was introduced I had to enrol him. Before the programme we were reading for him and helping him a lot. Now, he takes the initiative to read on his own.

            "His pronunciation and vocabulary have improved, and he is doing much better in other subjects. Reading is key; if you can read well, you have a better chance of success in other areas. I encourage other parents to get their child in the programme," said Daley.