June 16, 2021

Sion Hill Government School in St. Vincent innovates with agriculture to improve literacy!

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By Tracey Warner-Arnold From OECS/USAID Early Learners Program

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 — As part of the OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme (ELP) within the Education Development Management Unit of the OECS Commission, small grants were provided to support school-based reading intervention projects.  Sion Hill Government School in St. Vincent chose to combine agriculture with reading to combat years of literacy struggles within the school.

Having received agricultural tools from a prior grant, the Sion Hill Government School was awarded  EC $8400 from the ELP Grant funding to develop a reading programme around agriculture. This programme ran for eighteen months and enabled Grade K to Grade 3 students who were having difficulty reading to use their agricultural tools to plant and grow crops as well as develop reading skills through active engagement. Students planted seeds and recorded the progress of growth over time and used their agricultural experiences to create reading and writing materials with stories and journal entries.

Engaging in agriculture activities and simultaneously utilizing suitable vocabulary was more meaningful to the students as they experienced the progress of their plants growing and developing. Testing was carried out before, during and after the programme on the thirty-six student participants, with seven students successfully reaching their appropriate reading levels at the end of the programme. Teachers indicated that another important outcome from the project was the general excitement and interest amongst the children in both the agricultural process and reading.

Ninety (94) schools across the OECS have benefitted from ELP school-based grants of which approximately sixty-three (63) were specific to support reading improvement. A total of $593,341.75 Eastern Caribbean Dollars (XCD) has been disbursed by the ELP as well as the OECS Education Support Project (OESP) to support schools.  

About OECS/USAID ELP:

The OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme is a Programme within the Education Development Management Unit of the OECS Commission and was established in March 2015 to improve the reading skills of children in the early primary grades with the goal of providing a foundation for improved learning outcomes and enhanced opportunities for students in the six (6) independent Member States of the OECS (Antigua and Barbuda, The Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines). The OECS/USAID ELP will run through to September 2020 developing and implementing several initiatives that continue the advancement of early grade reading throughout the OECS.

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