I recently contacted an established Literacy Charity about the possibility of including our local school in their program, and they very kindly agreed to visit our area. I was invited to join the Founders of the charity – and their Literacy Link in Grenada – on a tour of the schools for an initial evaluation. I am very happy to report that three of our closest schools were accepted into the program, which will be a fantastic benefit to our local friends and neighbours!
Book dumps are often the only source of reading materials in Eastern Caribbean schools. Textbooks are usually not provided, and children often learn by rote – repeating aloud after the teacher. Well-meaning people try to contribute by cleaning out classrooms, libraries, private bookshelves and these books do make their way to this part of the world, but these books are not relevant to the children, they are always out of date and out of educational fashion.
A big challenge is to encourage Caribbean children to relate to the characters in books, and Hands Across the Sea provides current, engaging material for different levels of education & reading ability. Ongoing evaluations of age groups and specific challenges faced by the teachers guide the personalised shipments for each school to include both fiction & non-fiction for a range of ages & reading skills, picture books, and selections from the wonderful Dorling Kindersley offerings, such as the exceptional book “The Way Things Work”. They are also careful to include books that feature characters and topics that relate to Caribbean children.
The River Sallee Government School is already familiar to some of our guests who have brought donations for our Pack for a Purpose program. We work closely with the Principal, Mrs Jean James-Ross, to support the teachers & students at this school.
UPDATE! River Sallee has very kindly been adopted! We will continue to focus on our other two neighbouring schools, with your generous help!
The Rose Hill Catholic Infant School is a new school admitted to the program, with their needs far more urgent in nature. This remote school has approximately 50 students, preschool to grade one. There is an open-plan classroom arrangement, with rolling walls. They have no acceptable books to speak of. There is a cupboard piled high on one shelf with ratty & ripped, out of date used books that have been ‘book dumped’ (see more about book dumps below) that are not accessible to the children and offer no inspiration for them to learn to read. These will be removed and a rolling library system put in place, with engaging, colourful, and inspiring story and picture books provided for the children to read – or to be read to the students by the teachers.
The Grenada SDA Comprehensive Secondary School – the Mount Rose ‘High School’ – has a large, dedicated Library room, but an incredibly limited selection of out-of-date textbooks fill less than half of the shelf space. There are two low shelves of dusty old fictional works, which upon closer inspection I found it included only two books suitable for the ages of the students at the school. Specifically, there was an old Artemis Fowl (second or third book in the series) and the second book in Phillip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ series. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the old cowboy books by Louis Lamour, but it’s not hard to imagine that this selection is completely uninspiring to young people! Pride of place is a decades-old World Book Encyclopaedia set, circa 1979, I believe! THAT’S IT.
Whilst we are hoping Moonfish guests and other visitors to the Islands will continue ‘Pack for a Purpose’ when they travel to Grenada and support our 3 projects (Ocean Spirits, the Grenada GSPCA Animal Rescue, and River Sallee School), our Literacy Fundraising Drive allows our guests to thank the island for their warm welcome without worrying about suitcase space. It also means that our friends & family, and those of our local schoolchildren can donate, too! PLEASE CLICK HERE to donate to our fundraising drive via the secure payment platform, or copy and paste this link into your browser: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E128719&id=35 Donations are taken in US dollars, through a secure online platform for this US registered charity.
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