by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Last literacy survey conducted by UNESCO in 1970
- Adult Literacy Initiative of Grenada challenging validity of statistics
- Many adults between 30 and 60 taking advantage of ALIG free tutoring services.
Ever wonder what the literacy rate is like in Grenada? A survey conducted 48 years ago revealed that Grenada’s literacy rate was 97.8% in 1970.
According to Halim Brizan, Director of Statistics, Central Statistical Office, this is the only year that statistics on literacy rate can be found for the island. The survey was conducted the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics.
Years later the Adult Literacy Initiative of Grenada (ALIG) is challenging the validity of those statistics in present time, since according to their observation, many adults between the ages of 30 and 60 are taking advantage of their free tutoring services.
Assistant Coordinator Jill Paterson is calling on the government to undertake another survey which can provide the necessary detailed empirical data about adult literacy rates on the island. “Based on available statistics, I was certainly surprised since official statistics will say that we are above 90%, but when you really get on the ground and you start working with people, you realise that is not the truth. So I think we need to know the official statistics and generally you find across the region that a lot of these literacy assessments that are done are not comprehensive, because the question probably asked to respondents doesn’t really get at whether they have the ability to read, so I really think that we know the literacy rate in Grenada.”
The Adult Literacy Initiative of Grenada receives support from the Adult Literacy Tutors Association (ALTA) – an organisation based in Trinidad and Tobago which in 2014 sought to revamp the programme after it was dismantled following Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
ALTA was said to have revived the programme by training tutors, and despite low student numbers coupled with funding and venue challenges, classes began.
ALIG currently providing both Level 1 and 2 classes in reading and writing upstairs the Grenada Community Library & Resource Centre Lucas Street, St George’s.
Paterson said having official current statistics on literacy will help to guide their programmes to fit the needs of the population. “Knowing the statistics will definitely give us a benchmark so we know how literate are Grenadians, so we can know how much work we need to do, and I think if people know the statistics we must take this matter more seriously.”
The programme offered by the Adult Literacy Initiative of Grenada is still in its expansion phase as it is the goal of the organisation to offer classes through Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique and have already trained tutors in St Patrick, St Andrew, and St John with intention of training another tutor in St David.
There are plans to further expand the program by providing further adult literacy classes to bring adults up to the level of CXC.
She spoke on the level of literacy at which these adults have attained prior to taking their classes. “We have a range of students coming in at different levels so we would have those that are at the beginner level which means they will have challenges associating sounds with letters so they will know parts of the alphabet or recognise some letters and with these students we will have to do more extensive training with them, she said.
Paterson said most of their students are between both level 1 and 2. “The level 1 they have some basic knowledge about sounds and identify words and read to a certain extent however they still would need help matching sounds and words. Now our level 2 students would have those basic concepts, so they might be able to read but not fluently or they have problems with spelling…currently we have a level where we can move those students from level 2 into our next group which we are trying to expand to get them to a level where they can sit CXC English.”
ALIG is currently looking for sponsorship and volunteers to expand their services.
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