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Through public and private partnerships, my Ministry is committed to work with all stakeholders to provide an environment that supports and celebrates success in literacy.

Hon. Tara Rivers, Minister of Education, Employment & Gender Affairs

Published 8th September 2014, 1:30pm

MESSAGE FROM THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT AND GENDER AFFAIRS ON INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY

8th September, 2014

Today, communities around the world are celebrating “International Literacy Day.” As Minister of Education, Employment, and Gender Affairs, I join with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and all the countries around the world to honour this important day.

This year’s theme, “Literacy and Sustainable Development,” holds significance as it bridges the three departments that I passionately represent. The world’s attention is being drawn by UNESCO to examine the importance of girls’ and women’s literacy as a vehicle for sustainable development.

Within the Cayman Islands, we have been blessed. We do not face many of the developmental challenges that UNESCO works hard to lessen through improved literacy rates. Government schools continue to show improvement in our reading rates in both primary and secondary schools. According to data collected and analysed by the Department of Education Services, we have seen a statistical increase in student performance. In 2011, 44% of students left year six reading at the expected grade level. In 3 years, teachers, students, and parents have risen to the challenge and we can now boast that 76% of our students are leaving primary school reading on grade level. The secondary schools show similar success. In 2011, 59% of year 11 students received a Level 2 pass in CXC English. In 2014, 70% of the students received a Level 2.

Although there has been much achieved through the hard work of all those in the educational system, it is my mandate to continue the positive trend by working to ensure that more students experience the satisfaction that comes with being fully literate.

For this reason, within our school system, improving literacy standards continues to be one of the highest priorities, as literacy underpins the life-skills of all individuals in our community. Literacy enables all of us to be lifelong learners, and to make choices that promote gender equality, economic growth through employment, and social development.

Through public and private partnerships, my Ministry is committed to work with all stakeholders to provide an environment that supports and celebrates success in literacy. For example, this year we plan to continue to support parents through our Partners in Print program which empowers parents by providing them with reading strategies they can do in their homes. We are committed to providing support for our most at-risk students through interventions like Levelled Literacy Intervention. These programs are a continuation of the joint efforts of Literacy Is For Everyone Ltd. (LIFE) and the Department of Education Services’ Literacy Team. We are also supporting our teachers through the improvement of school libraries and teacher resources rooms.

It seems fitting to conclude my International Literacy Message by sharing the challenge extended to all countries, education systems, and educational partners by the Director-General of UNESCO: “I appeal to every Member State and all our partners to redouble efforts – political and financial – to ensure that literacy is fully recognized as one of the most powerful accelerators of sustainable development.”

We will continue to strive to do our part here in the Cayman Islands.