Making a difference in public schools in the Dominican Republic
The Centro de Excelencia para la Investigacion y Diffusion de la Lectura y Escritura (CEDILE) in the Dominican Republic is one of the UNESCO-Hamdan Prize winners for the 2010-2011 edition. The Prize has helped us significantly strengthen our activities, notably in the areas of classroom libraries and teacher professional development.
200 classroom libraries impacting 10 000 students
200 classroom libraries were provided to public schools helping to improve teachers pedagogical and literacy practices, impacting 10,000 students (1st to 4th grades of elementary schools). Each library, contained narrative, informative and instructional publications.
These classroom libraries have exposed children to:
- the social use of reading and writing through a variety of texts;
- diverse ways of learning, ways which neither home nor communal learning can replace;
- reading and writing as children from the most favored sectors.
In order to use these libraries, teachers received training that allowed them to:
- update their didactic skills;
- expand their knowledge about writing;
- connect reading and writing with a variety of knowledge areas;
- apply practical suggestions to new teaching strategies to help their students learn to read and write for life.
Finally, these libraries have also had a positive impact in schools’ reading and writing fairs. These fairs have the following components:
- storytelling corner;
- puppet Plays;
- creativity workshops for students to illustrate their writing;
- workshops for parents to improve their relationship with the schools;
- library corner.
A reduced dropout rate
With the professional development of active teachers, our teachers' professional Program has contributed to:
- the reduction of the dropout rate at higher academic levels, grade repetition and illiteracy in the Dominican schools;
- teachers’ ability to achieve excellence in the teaching of reading and writing from the first through fourth grades of elementary schools;
- change the school-community relationship, stimulating love and enjoyment of reading and writing through fairs.
New partnerships and greater visibility
We were able to establish partnerships with the private sector. Through their financial support we carried out the professional development of active teachers working with the libraries funded from the UNESCO-Hamdan Prize.
Greater visibility and dissemination of our Reading and Writing Programs was another benefit. In 2011 our university was able to establish an alliance with the Dominican Ministry of Education to support professional development of 1,600 active teachers, 190 teacher coordinators, 190 school directors and 200 government specialists for 8 Educational Regions (out of 16 in the country) on the teaching-learning process of reading and writing.
Creation of a UNESCO Chair
The Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) through our Center of Reading and Writing presented a proposal to UNESCO for the creation of the “UNESCO Chair on Teacher Training and Research in Reading and Writing at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra”, which was approved at the end of 2011.
In the near future our aim is to continue to achieve a real and lasting change in how teachers of public schools teach reading and writing. In doing so we aim to contribute to improving the quality of life for those 50,000 boys and girls that attend schools where our Programs are delivered in the next two academic years. We believe that literacy is the cornerstone for future knowledge, for the development of critical thinking, and finally, for life. Reading and writing, along with other founding values, are at the heart of education.
We plan to organize the Conference “Reading and Writing for a Plural and Democratic Society” which will take place in October in Santo Domingo and Santiago and will benefit active teachers, university professors and linguistic specialists.
We also seek to launch the “UNESCO Chair on Teacher Training and Research in Reading and Writing at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra”, and plan to organize reading and writing fairs in public spaces to make people aware of the importance of reading and writing for life, with the thinking that “Reading is everyone’s right and allows for the full exercise of democracy.”
by Dr. Liliana Montenegro, Director, CEDILE/PUCMM