November 16, 2012

Jamalco’s ACEP Initiative to Improve Literacy and Numeracy in Basic Schools

Jamalco through the Alcoa Foundation has earmarked some US$180,000 to improve literacy and numeracy levels among basic school children in the company’s operating areas in Clarendon and Manchester.

This announcement was made at the launch of the company’s Advancing Childhood Education Programme (ACEP) at the Halse Hall Great House on Tuesday November 7. The programme will run for two years initially – 2012-2014.
Under the programme, 150 basic school teachers will receive specialized training and certification in the Fundamentals of Early Childhood Education. 150 parents will also receive training in parenting skills to enable them to be more effective in carrying out their role as parents specifically as it relates to the education of their children.
The programme was developed by Jamalco in response to the low number of six year olds who could read at the required level when entering Grade 1 of primary schools. The fact is that many of our basic school teachers are pre-trained and ill-equipped to help the students achieve mastery in these critical learning skills.
Managing Director Jerome Maxwell hailed the initiative noting that this is a wise investment as the first few years of a child’s life lay the foundation for their cognitive development and by extension their physical and emotional growth. “Simply put, a child’s early years lay the foundation for all that is to come. Therefore, any investment in early childhood education is an investment in the society of the future,” Mr. Maxwell said.
Corporate Services and Government Affairs Manager Leo Lambert says, “Through this programme, we aim to expose the participating teachers to new teaching techniques and aids that will make learning interesting. Hopefully, we should register at minimum 20% improvement in the literacy levels in the targeted areas when this phase of the programme ends.
Guest Speaker Mr. Radley Reid says this initiative is in keeping with the Minter of Education’s focus to improve literacy for all children leaving Primary School by 2015. “We need to get education right from the start. We need to build a solid foundation from the early childhood level and get education right from start. If we fix the problems from the early childhood levels, learning will be less challenging at the
Primary and Secondary levels.” Mr. Reid said.
Mr. Reid added that if the early childhood process is fixed then the Career Advancement Programme (CAP), Advancement Secondary Transition Education Programme (STEP) and Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) programmes will not be required and the funds spent on those programmes can be channeled in other areas.
Special training for the teachers will be conducted by The Mico University through its school of Continuing Studies. Seventy-five teachers will be trained each year.  Teachers who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate and eight academic credits that may be used towards attaining a Bachelor of Education degree in Early Childhood Education. Classes will be offered on Sunday afternoons. 
The Parenting workshops will be offered by the Early Childhood Commission to parents associated with the selected basic schools. The parents will participate in 19 one-day workshops using the curriculum Pathways to Parenting: a Caribbean Approach.
The programme will be administered by United Way of Jamaica and Jamalco will provide oversight to help achieve the programme’s objectives.

Handing over of MOU.

Click image to enlarge.

The partners involved in Jamalco’s ACEP Initiative exchange copies of the MOU.