National Language Arts Policy underway

(SKNIS): The Ministry of Education, as part of its Early Learners Programme (ELP), held its first consultation for a National Language Arts Policy, on October 03.

According to Dr. Tricia Esdaille, Chief Education Officer, this activity is a central one for the Ministry of Education as part of its ELP pilot that is being carried out in St. Kitts and Nevis. She further explained that it is also part of a larger programme of activities which surrounds the review and revision of the curriculum framework and the curriculum assessment framework.

“We recognize that language and language instruction in schools are critical and as a country as we begin to assess our curriculum and the way in which we will be assessing various subject areas of which language is one, which is key,” said Dr. Esdaille. “We need to begin to think about how we want to change the landscape for teaching and learning in schools in regards to the area.”

Dr. Esdaille said that they will be looking at home language and its implications for learning in the school system, how children transition from use of “home language”, also known as dialect, into learning internationally accepted English, which is the Standard in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“What we want to talk about in our policy are the changes that are necessary to ensure that the transition for children is a successful one, that children are able to develop the skills and competencies that they need to communicate, to write and to speak using internationally accepted English,” she explained.

Jackquelyn Bassue, ELP Coordinator, said that teaching the students in dialect will aid in the transition from the local vernacular to Standard English.

“Within our schools we realized that our students speak dialect more so than Standard English, but it is our aim to give instructions in Standard English,” she explained. “So, the Early Learners Programme is suggesting that the dialect be used in an effort to help students to speak standard English, that is, when the dialect is used the students are coached in translating that dialect into standard English.”

It is hoped that included within the policy are areas that would seek to enhance how it is done in the schools in order to enhance learning, said Mrs. Bassue.

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