The Bahamas Hotel Association has teamed up with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, IBM, Project Read, and the Rotary Clubs of The Bahamas to bring IBM’s internationally acclaimed Companion Reading program to the country. Minister of Education, Science and Technology, The Honourable Jerome Fitzgerald brought remarks at the launch of the IBM Program on Monday, 12th November, 2012 at Luciano’s. The goal of the international web-based program is “to help children and adults around the world gain essential English Language literacy skills using IBM’s web-based literacy technology in collaboration with schools and not-for-profit organizations”.
The initiative was brought to the forefront by Mr. Stuart Bowe, President of the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA). Upon learning about the program’s success in 46 other countries reaching over 156,000 students and adults, Bowe contacted Felix Stubbs, Managing Director for IBM Bahamas inquiring about bringing it to The Bahamas. IBM responded and over the past six months the partners have pooled their resources to make it a reality.
The program is being piloted in six government primary schools and one private school. Last week a team from IBM in Canada spent two days in The Bahamas training teachers and Project Read professionals who will be facilitating the program. Rotarian Charles Sealy was also on hand for the launch, making a large donation of headsets to support the program.
Minister Fitzgerald commended Mr. Bowe for his role in bringing the initiative into fruition. He expressed gratitude to the other stakeholders for assisting in making it possible for students and adults to raise their literacy levels. The Minister stressed the need for us to work together to stem the tide of illiteracy so that those challenged in this area can become free to participate and make a valuable contribution to nation building.
President Stuart Bowe welcomed the partners and thanked them for their support. He explained that the Reading Companion Program and all of the BHA education and training initiatives are really about investing in the future of The Bahamas. He noted that the beauty of the program is that it can be followed at one’s pace and with privacy – sparing some from a natural embarrassment which they may otherwise experience.
Mr. Bowe further stated, “We hope to see the pilot develop into a standing program, reaching thousands of students. In the future we also wish to extend the program to adults in the workplace”. He said that he is cognizant of the fact that there are many outstanding line level employees, some with literacy limitations, who could reach greater heights in industry by further developing their literacy skills. Mr. Bowe stated that illiteracy is an automatic roadblock to success which he hopes will be eradicated by the introduction of this intervention and other efforts by the Ministry, Rotary and Project Read.
Ms. Arthurlue Rahming, representing Project Read which will administer the program, said that it is an ideal supplement to other programs and she envisioned its success. She promised that Project Read would make every effort to make the contributors proud as they take full advantage of the opportunity to help to eradicate illiteracy.
Deputy Director of Education, Mr. Ross Smith and Education Officer, Mrs. Vanria Jack were in attendance at the launch. Also present were some of the teachers participating in the pilot program. They were Alvern McCoy and Philaseta Williamson of C.W. Sawyer Primary; Anita Beneby of Woodcock Primary; Carlene Louissaint of Palmdale Primary; Avinel Rutherford of T.G. Glover Primary and Lethoy Powell, Vice Principal and Samira Azzahir of Akhaphren International Academy. They were joined by BHA Workforce Development Manager Bridget Murray, who is coordinating BHA’s role, Beverly Saunders, BHA’s volunteer workforce development chairperson, and Executive Vice President Frank Comito.
Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA)
Pictured L-R: BHA Workforce Development Manager Bridget Murray; Jakki Trihey, IBM; Liz Gildner, IBM Canada; Stuart Bowe, President, BHA; Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology; Felix Stubbs, General Manager, IBM; Charles Sealy, Rotary Bahamas; Arthurlue Rahming, Administrator, Project Read; Vanria Jack, Education Officer, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.