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JSIF aids expansion of teacher training for language-based learning disabilities

Published:Thursday | September 19, 2019 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

At six years old, she was enrolled in a Kingston-based primary school, knowing only about five consonants and a couple vowels. She wasn’t able to sound out any words and she had a few sight words but not enough to be able to read a sentence.

The abilities of the unnamed student skyrocketed after instruction with her teacher who was trained in the Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes.

She now reads at the grade-four level and her teacher is one of 50 who have been trained and certified since 2017.

This was one of the glowing testimonials shared by Creative Language-Based Learning Foundation (CLBL) consultant, Mary McDonald.

She said the Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes is a methodology used to diagnose and correct language-based learning disabilities. The research-validated programme has improved the lives of children for more than 30 years.

During a contract signing ceremony yesterday, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) made a $20.6-million agreement towards the expansion of the project.

The funds will finance the training of 130 teachers across 75 schools in rural and urban Jamaica.

The project will be funded under two JSIF programmes – the Basic Needs Trust Fund and the Integrated Community Development Project.

The first phase of the project was sponsored by the CHASE Fund.

Founder Mandy Melville said that teachers were selected after conducting panel interviews with personnel from the Ministry of Education, the Early Childhood Commission, the Jamaica Teaching Council, among other agencies.

“The more they see their colleagues being able to reach the children, using the programme, the more teachers want to participate ... . Teachers that started in 2017 continue working with us ‘cause we’re trying to develop them into local instructional leaders and mentors,” she said.

JSIF Managing Director Omar Sweeney shared that 40 per cent of the projects the fund sponsors are education based.

The project will see teachers undergoing 350 hours of professional development training in the modules and 450 hours of coaching to improve the quality of their instruction.

They will also be provided with instructional kits and testing material for classroom use.

“The programme will continue with three years of ongoing instructional leadership – that’s the sustainability element that really grounds it,” Sweeney said.


Important step in revolutionising education


Alando Terrelonge, the minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, in yesterday commending the expansion of the learning project, asserted that it was an important step in the revolutionising of education in Jamaica.

“It behoves us as a nation and as a society to ensure that each child is equipped with the requisite tools,the requisite knowledge to empower themselves ... when we have a creative learning-based platform that will assist children with learning disabilities, it is a win, not just for the teachers who are being trained but it is a win for all our children,” Terrelonge said.

“I want to thank all our partners for recognising the importance of education and also recognising that we do have children who present themselves with challenges.”