After a major evaluation of various reading programs using an evaluation instrument developed by the University of Oregon, Utah State University’s Reading for All Learners Program (RALP) was determined to be the most cost effective beginning reading program to address beginning reading instruction needs in Guyana.
Alan Hofmeister, director of the technology division of Utah State’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, is also the director of reading technical assistance for this reading project that will help the teachers as well as the children of Guyana.
A recent survey reported that 90 percent of 14 to 25-year-olds were functionally illiterate, and there are virtually no teachers with higher than a sixth grade education in Guyana. Literacy efforts beginning with the improvement of reading instruction in early elementary grades is seen as the first step in rebuilding the first grade classrooms in Guyana, a country approximately the size of Idaho with 700,000 people.
Hofmeister said Guyana is the most poverty impacted nation in the Caribbean and South America, after Haiti. The economy and education system was destroyed by a dictatorship aligned with Cuba, but Guyana now has a democratically elected government. The reduced level of violence has allowed major investments in rebuilding the economic, educational and social services infrastructure.
At present, most of the school buildings do not have electricity, and Guyana currently has less than 500 miles of paved road, which poses additional challenges in educating the Amerindians of the high country, said Hofmeister.
As in many Caribbean countries, English is the language of the government. The United Nations, the U.S. Department of State and the Inter-American Development Bank are making major investments in the rebuilding of Guyana, and addressing literacy as a high priority item.
To find out more about RALP contact Hofmeister at (435) 797-3718.