Coordinator of The Reading Clinic Dr Astra Babb is concerned about the worrying trend developing in Barbados where young males are unable to read adequately.
During her address at the closing ceremony of The Reading Clinic, Babb said she realized it is becoming a national problem that needs to be immediately addressed.
“This free reading clinic sought to address what can be called a national concern. It has clearly identified that many of our young men have challenges in reading effectively,” Babb said, adding that four weeks interacting at the Reading Clinic showed her that the young males longed to be competent readers.
“[It] clearly indicated that the boys would like to become competent readers and that well-structured remedial programmes should be put in place to rescue those who have fallen behind.
“It also highlights the importance of home-school collaboration when it comes to developing and encouraging reading. Emerging reading begins in the home; consequently, the household is responsible for this phase of reading and should collaborate closely with the school in the development of the child’s reading skills,” she said.
Babb added that the main objective of The Reading Clinic was to improve the reading skills of the men and provide a space where they did not feel embarrassed because they were unable to read adequately.
“We focused as a team on phonemic awareness as a supporting mechanism for attacking words not unfamiliar to the students. We used many comprehension passages for oral and written comprehension practice. We taught children how to spell and we provided a nurturing environment, which would encourage them to read without feeling embarrassed,” Babb remarked, adding that some participants of the Reading Clinic were reading below their grade level.
“These boys need more assistance from trained professionals to correct their deficits. So parents, providing that you can afford it, please invest in your children. Some boys need much more instruction in phonemic awareness [to] become proficient in using their knowledge as a tool,” she said.
Babb called on Government to keep its promise to reopen the Alma Parris Secondary School in St Peter stressing that the school should cater to the remedial needs of the students with specially trained teachers.
“I think the programme at Alma Parris School should be structured specifically to meet the needs of the children who go to the Alma Parris school. It should not be the same syllabus as in other secondary schools because these children have special needs, therefore, specialist teachers should staff the school,” Babb said.
“Minister, [referring to Minister Trevor Prescod who was in attendance] I am asking that when you go in Parliament, you look at this programme for the Alma Parris school and that the school should be reopened,” she stressed.
Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Trevor Prescod told the parents that reading should not be a punishment.
“Make sure that reading is not used as ‘Go in that corner, get a book and read.’ You are using that education and reading as a weapon to punish children. It should be [the] very opposite to punishment. Tell your child they have had enough time enjoying recreational activities at school and there is supposed to be a time [on afternoons or evenings], when for an hour or two, depending on the age of the child, [you] let them read. If you think they are tricking you, ask the child to read aloud,” Prescod said, warning parents that they should not use a barbaric approach to get the children to read.
The students who participated in the four-week camp received their certificates of completion and books at the ceremony held at Barbados Community College’s Science Auditorium on Friday. (LG)