The OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme (ELP) has focussed on improving reading levels across the OECS in the early grades over the last five years as research in education continues to highlight the critical importance of early grade reading to academic success and to life in general. As the programme comes to an end September 2020 all partners of the OECS/USAID ELP are eager to establish plans for sustaining the key elements of the programme that have contributed to improving reading levels over the last five years.

Each of the six Member States(MS) in the programme (Antigua and Barbuda, The Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines), plan to sustain the core tenets of Early Grade Reading to ensure continued reading improvement in their countries. The OECS/USAID ELP National Focal Points through their individual Ministries of Education are taking up the mantle and developing three-year sustainability plans to build the literacy skills of the infant and primary students in the MS.

The primary tenets of the programme to be continued include:

Establishment and utilization of a sound curriculum for reading in the early grades,

Continued professional development of Grades K-3 teachers to ensure the development and continuation of excellent pedagogy and instruction for early grade readers,

Formative assessment of the early grade students to ensure individualized instruction and planning for each early grade student and the development and implementation of a language policy.

These components of the OECS/USAID ELP are grounded in research and international best practices, and if implemented effectively will have positive results for literacy in the OECS. Included within the plan is a strong advocacy and national sensitization element to ensure that the Ministries of Education and the general public understand the value or early grade reading and how they can enhance and support this effort.

The OECS/USAID ELP will provide the support of a consultant to draft and finalise the plans for each Member State to be ready for October 2020. It is anticipated that with the development of these new plans, the Ministries, principals, teachers and parents will all have a strategy and guide to follow as they seek to institutionalize and build upon the early grade reading initiatives from the Early Learners Programme over the next three years.

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