PRESS RELEASE — Thousands of primary and secondary school children in six Eastern Caribbean countries are getting a greater chance of improving their reading skills through a touch from Hands Across the Sea, a non-profit organisation focused on advancing literacy levels of children in the region.
CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank strengthened that support with a US$25,000 donation from the bank’s social responsibility arm, the FirstCaribbean International ComTrust Foundation.
Chairperson of the ComTrust Foundation and the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Colette Delaney, said ComTrust’s trustees were quite taken with the organisation’s programme, especially its reach into Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). She said that the bank was very interested in promoting education and given the importance of reading and the scarcity of books in the area, the bank was very happy to assist the non-profit organisation.
Hands Across the Sea Executive Director Mrs. Harriet Linskey, thanked the bank and explained that the United States’ NGO was attacking the literacy challenge using a three-step programme that included creating or rejuvenating school libraries and providing training for librarians and teachers.
Mrs. Linskey and her husband Tom started the NGO about 11 years ago following their visits to the OECS and recognising that many schools in those countries had few new, pleasure reading books for their students and interest in reading was low. She pointed out that remedial reading was also of concern given that many secondary school students were reading way below their age group level and she added that, previously, helping some teens catch up on reading skills meant resorting to books well below their school level.
Mrs. Linskey told the presentation party at CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank that new books will be bought during July and by August, a process that would be completed in time for the books to be shipped and to arrive in the Caribbean by September, which is the start of a new school year.
She said that, so best practices could be maintained, Hands Across the Sea had been providing teaching manuals and had implemented a series of training programmes. Teacher training has been conducted in Grenada, and Dominica and St. Vincent were next on the agenda. In addition, the NGO’s on-island teams of Literacy Links also runs a Student Librarian programme, which has trained over 1,200 student librarians in the OECS.