USAID Regional Representative Clinton White met with students and teachers at the Bishop Charles Gachet RC Primary School February 6 in Marchand to see firsthand the benefits of the OECS/USAID Early Learners Program (ELP), an $8.9 million initiative improve the reading skills of primary grade children. Mr. White also discussed USAID funded programs with St. Lucian government officials and OECS Director General Didacus Jules.
Upon arrival at the Bishop Charles Gachet RC Primary School, Mr. White was treated to a special welcome by the Grade 1 students and observed a ‘read aloud’ session with two classes. Principal Cornelia Lubin welcomed Mr. White and detailed the training, in-school guidance, and support that she and the teachers have received through the ELP. Ms. Lubin explained how the ELP has fundamentally changed how they teach reading in the school and produced positive results for child literacy.
Chief Education Officer Fiona Mayer, also present for the visit, explained, “Through the OECS/USAID funded programme we have seen children more excited about reading. Their lives are being impacted and positive changes are taking place in the classroom. We are excited for how this will positively impact education and the citizens and the productivity of Saint Lucians in years to come”.
Mr. White said, “Observing the interaction between the teachers and students, the effective delivery by the teachers, and the student engagement and enthusiasm towards learning and reading was very impressive. I am seeing the success of the OECS/USAID Early Learner’s Programme through teacher training and professional development, and that training is put into practice in the classroom and positively impacting the students. The fact that we can support this ELP reading programme and the various primary schools here in Saint Lucia and across the OECS is very important to the United States.”
OECS/USAID Early Learners Program was established in March 2015 with the goal of providing a foundation for improved learning outcomes and enhanced opportunities for students in the six independent Member States of the OECS (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines). To date the ELP has positively impacted more than 17,000 primary school students and 1500 teachers of grades K to 3. Sixty schools across the member states have received development grants to support reading enhancement projects, and 173,114 teaching and learning materials have been provided to 750 classrooms across the OECS. The OECS/USAID ELP will run through to September 2020.