October 28, 2009

A ceremony to introduce a project aimed at boosting parent and child literacy in Belize was held this morning at the Princess Hotel. The Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation and the Caribbean Child Support Initiative are hosting a national consultation of Family Learning in Belize City. The goal is to strengthen interaction between parents and their children and this would be done through the implementation of a Family Learning Programme. Susan Branker-Lashley is the Programme Director of the Caribbean Child Support Initiative.

Susan Branker-Lashley; Programme Director, Caribbean Child Support Initiative
"We have invited a wide cross section of stakeholders from various ministries as well as civil society representatives including YWCA and other bodies to look at the concept of family literacy and how we could develop a Caribbean version of family literacy. Based on UNESCO's statistics it is now a problem that we are now facing across the region; falling literacy rates. With the initiatives that we have been working on with the ministry, the Roving Care Givers Programme which is being piloted in Toledo and now looking at the family literacy and learning concepts we really want to look at how we can impact on the outcomes for very young children to foster greater learning opportunities and really allowing children to reach their maximum potential. Science and certainly a lot of research has demonstrated that the earlier start that a child has in terms of a learning environment and certainly with support from well equipped parents it certainly can have a great impact on their ability to participate effectively in society as adults."

The morning's activity doubled as the book launch for a new storybook titled "Diego Dish and Carlotta Spoon".

Susan Branker-Lashley; Programme Director, Caribbean Child Support Initiative

"We in 2004 worked very closely with CAMPAR in what we called at the time story building. We worked with pre-school teachers, young children and their parents to build stories. This was a very interactive and participatory process and coming out of that a team of writers under the leadership of CAMPAR were able to develop this story book which we are extremely excited about launching today. In terms of the content of the book it is very much targeted towards young children and it certainly targeted towards facilitating parents reading more and communicating more effectively with their children. It is very visual so we have a number of illustrations that are very unique to the Belizean context. The language is certainly rich and it certainly reflect Belizean culture and idiosyncrasies so I think it will foster a lot more into generational learning and communication. In addition we have a CD so it can be listened to and we have it now in Kriole and I am told that there has been some translation done here for various languages in Belize. We expect it to be used widely here in Belize and across the region where we will distribute the book."

The story book will be distributed to children and families in the Roving Caregivers Programme and has been translated in many languages including Garifuna, Ketchi and Mopan Maya and Spanish.

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