All primary school children will soon receive books from the locally-made Atlantic Reader series and it is expected that many more children across Guyana will be able to read while learning other subject content and life skills.
This was announced by the Minister of Education Priya Manickchand, who launched the completed Atlantic Reader series on Friday at the Redeemer Primary School in Georgetown.
Work on the Atlantic Reader series first started in 2012 and Books One to Three were eventually published and distributed to children across Guyana.
The remaining three books for Grades Four to Six nor the six accompanying workbooks for all primary levels were created after the PPP/C government demitted office in 2015.
“Ten years have gone past without the reader series intended to benefit each child, being in the bookbags of each child,” Minister Manickchand lamented.
Why this is important, she said, is that these locally-made books provide teachers and parents with the opportunity of progressively developing literacy skills in their children.
“Imagine what our results could have been now.
“…. in a 2021 [National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA)], we are still wringing our hands and stopping just short of bawling our eyes out when we see children with zero on every paper, not in English alone,” the Education Minister said further.
Last year, when the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)’s Director of Operations Dr. Nicole Manning, who presented the 2021 NGSA report, noted that English recorded the highest pass rate with 65.71 per cent of the pupils passing.
It was, however, mentioned that there were some children who could not score any marks because it appeared as though they were unable to read.
And so, Manickchand said that this completed reader series will now aim to guarantee that many more of Guyana’s children can read and resultantly, learn better.
The minister said that with the recently proposed $1.2 billion allocation for textbooks in the 2022 National Budget, each primary school child will soon receive the books.
This will add to the Education Ministry’s aim to provide all the necessary textbooks to many more children across Guyana. Digital copies of the books, along with numerous other reading resources, are on the Education Ministry’s website already though.
Importantly, too, Manickchand said that the Atlantic Reader series will be translated into Spanish to accommodate the Spanish speakers in Guyana and also the Wapichan and other locally-spoken indigenous languages.
For years, Guyanese children had been using books from abroad that illustrated the culture of other countries and people.
As such, Assistant Chief Education Officer (Literacy) Samantha Williams explained that the idea of the Atlantic Reader series was born in 2012 and entrusted to local writers to meet the “cultural complexities” of Guyana while considering the “demographic uniqueness” of all Guyanese children.
“They are designed to move the Guyanese learners across a reading continuum to enable them to become skilful readers,” Williams explained.
These books are all integrated with the five core literacy skills: listening, speaking, thinking, reading and writing. Williams noted that it also allows primary school children to immerse themselves in health and family life education skills.
Importantly, with the completion of the entire collection, Chief Education Officer Dr. Marcel Hutson related that Guyana should be spending less money procuring literacy textbooks from overseas.