The Hands Across the Sea representatives, ELP National Focal Points and Coordinators in each Member State have begun working with schools to determine how best to structure systems for library lending. Additional volunteers are also being sought to supplement the existing team in facilitating the book service. The library programmes vary by Member State and by community, whereby the Hands Take Away Book Service is designed to fit in to the existing landscape of each country and community. In Antigua, local librarians and the Hands Across the Sea ‘Links’ plan to support a Book Mobile in June. The librarians and “links” plan to travel from community to community to distribute books to students and parents.
To ensure the health and safety of all persons, the OECS/USAID ELP and Hands Across the Sea have devised a system which includes the incorporation of stringent health regulations in the book lending process. Children and parents will wear masks when picking up books and will be encouraged to wash their hands before and after handling the books. All books are to be returned in the envelope in which it was sent home. Schools will ensure that a cardboard “quarantine” box is available to place the books in when they are returned to the school. The books will then be quarantined for a minimum of 72 hours.
Speaking on the collaboration, Executive Director and Cofounder, Harriet Linskey stated
“Literacy is foundational, and helping children succeed is a team effort between educators, parents and community members. We are pleased to partner with the ELP programme to keep children engaged with reading during unprecedented times.”
To date, there are 73 schools/libraries providing books to students within the OECS communities and 15 planning to start in the immediate future. Hands Across the Sea and the OECS/USAID teams in each Member State are currently working on coordinating with the schools to make easy access to reading books a widespread reality.
About OECS/USAID ELP:
OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme is a Programme within the Education Development Management Unit of the OECS Commission and was established in March 2015 to improve the reading skills of children in the early primary grades with the goal of providing a foundation for improved learning outcomes and enhanced opportunities for students in the six (6) independent Member States of the OECS (Antigua and Barbuda, The Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines).
To date the ELP has achieved a number of tangible outputs with over 17,000 learners reached at the Primary level, over 1500 Grades K to 3 teachers supported through job embedded professional development, 1426 lessons observed and 1031 coaching sessions with teachers have been completed by ELP Coordinators. Further, 60 schools across the Member States have received development grants to support reading enhancement projects and 173,114 teaching and learning materials have been provided to 750 classrooms across the OECS. The OECS/USAID ELP will run through to September 2020 continuing to develop and implement impactful initiatives that advance early grade reading throughout the OECS.
About Hands Across the Sea:
Since its founding by Harriet and Tom (“T.L.”) Linskey in 2007, Hands Across the Sea has, through its CLASS (Caribbean Literacy and School Support) program assisted 429 Caribbean pre-schools, elementary schools, and high schools and reading programs, sent over half a million new, asked-for books, giving Caribbean children access to top-quality, appropriate books and literacy support materials in school lending libraries created or rejuvenated by Hands Across the Sea. The organization works in Antigua, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada.