A former educator is calling on the Ministry of Education to improve remedial reading skills in students before they reach the secondary level.

Former principal of the St. Lucy Secondary School, Daryll Jordan, said this morning that in his tenure from 1971 to 1995 he did not set a limit in terms of marks for children coming to the school — as long as they could fit he would tell parents to bring them.

This was no longer the case, he said, as the school was today renamed the Daryll Jordan Secondary School, but now children were arranged in schools according to grades, which in itself had brought its own challenges.

He contended though, that there were reading challenges among children going into secondary schools that needed to be corrected if they were to have the best possible chance to excel.

There was ample evidence to suggest that performance on the Common Entrance Exam was not a defining moment in a child’s future, he added.

“Despite such challenges, many of our students find themselves at desirable levels of our labour force; but the challenge of inadequate reading competency and literacy needs to be corrected before the child begins the secondary stage.

“I’m aware that the present minister is very aware of this problem and actually has a committee looking into this issue of reading, and I want to commend that because it is obvious that reading is basic to every subject at the secondary level, even Mathematics and when a child reaches the secondary stage, if he or she is experiencing difficulties in these areas, it makes progress very hazardous,” said Jordan.

He told the minister from his standpoint he believed the problem must be tackled at the primary school level and that resources should be put there to deal with the issue.

The former educator noted though that he was not blaming the primary schools for the challenges but acknowledged that sometimes the classes could be too large and therefore such things could “get lost”.

“I believe that if the right things are done at the primary stage and efforts are made to identify those children who are having difficulty with reading … and have specialists help them you can reduce significantly the need for remedial reading at the secondary level,” he added.

He recalled that as principal, one of the first things he did when children entered the then St. Lucy Secondary, was to test their reading skills, adding, “but I don’t think that is the stage at which it should be done”.

During the renaming ceremony, the school hall was also renamed the Ifill and Phillip Auditorium after former educator Ezbon Ifill and Chairman of the Board Amory Phillips. (LB)

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