Dec. 7, 2009
PETIT-ROCHER (CNB) - A literacy centre pilot project was officially launched today in two District 5 schools by the Department of Education and the Caisses populaires acadiennes.
The centres at Académie Notre-Dame in Dalhousie and Le Tournesol in Petit-Rocher offer individual help after school to students in grades 1 to 3 who are having trouble learning to read and write. The help from volunteers can last throughout the school year, as well as during the summer with a literacy summer camp.
"We continue to focus on literacy, and are concentrating our efforts on ensuring that the children become independent readers," said Education Minister Roland Haché. "We know that if students aren't reading at the appropriate level by the end of Grade 2 they will struggle in other subjects. That is why we created this mentor partnership."
Through the volunteer partners program inspired by the community schools, more than 10 volunteers have been recruited between the two centres.
"I consider it a priority to help children who are struggling with reading," said Edith Landry of Dalhousie, who is one of the volunteers who made the project possible. "I like to work with young people, even now that I am retired and in spite of my limited time. I agreed to support this project and to join the literacy team because I believe that by assisting these young people we can help them overcome their problems."
The literacy centres have other major partners, including the Caisses populaires acadiennes, the Department of Education, School District 5, and the public libraries.
"This is a wonderful opportunity," said Camille H. Thériault, president and CEO of the Mouvement des caisses populaires acadiennes. "Two communities have made a commitment to offer their young people a better future by helping students in grades 1 to 3 improve their reading skills. Involving current and past employees and directors of the Caisses populaires acadiennes is another indication of our desire as a movement to make a difference, not only by investing money, but also by dedicating volunteer time to our youth, who are our future."
Since 2006, government has provided additional resources to improve literacy from kindergarten to Grade 2. Literacy rates have increased, but government acknowledges that more work remains.
In the last speech from the throne, government announced that it would be setting up a literacy mentors program throughout the province. The pilot project announced today could serve as a model, and government will receive the support of Elementary Literacy/Littératie au Primaire.
"It's with the support of the new Elementary Literacy/Littératie au Primaire organization, the Caisses populaires acadiennes, the direct education partners, the public libraries, the parents, other potential partners, and the community as a whole that we will make this provincial project a success for all children with literacy problems," said Haché.
The new literacy initiative fulfils several commitments of the education plan, When kids come first, such as ensuring that no child leaves Grade 5 without a solid foundation for learning. It also addresses many of the commitments of the New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion plan, Overcoming Poverty Together, particularly with regards to the importance of ensuring that all children in New Brunswick become literate. Overcoming Poverty Together was adopted in 2009, and aims to reduce income poverty in the province by 25 per cent by 2015 through the ongoing collaboration of the provincial government, the private sector, and community organizations.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Johanne Le Blanc, Communications, Department of Education, 506-453-3085; Mario Griffin, communications and public relations consultant, Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes, 506-726-4785.