The Ministry of Education of the Dominican Republic has organized the National Literacy Plan, also known as “Quisqueya Learns With You.” Announced by President Danilo Medina on 10th September, this program declares literacy a fundamental human right for people over 14 years old, and hopes to eliminate illiteracy in the Dominican Republic, which currently stands at a rate of 9.7% (the official statistic according to the Central Bank’s National Labour Force Survey).
The consistency of this illiteracy rate over the last 30 years, according to Minister of Education Josefina Pimentel, “shows that despite many efforts, we still have not overcome as a society this social and ethical debt that we owe to 700,000 people”.
At the ceremony to announce the initiative, Medina called for at least 25,000 volunteers from social, religious, and university backgrounds that have experience in the field of literacy. So far, 3,800 have registered for the programme, which will begin on 7th January 2013 and aims to reach 725,000 Dominicans, 45.5% of whom live in urban areas and 54.5% of whom live in rural areas.
“There is nothing more liberating than when people have the opportunity to access the written word, the knowledge accumulated by humanity and the history of their own communities and people”, Medina said.
Together, with the efforts of the Ministry of Education, students will have the option to teach in the Family Literacy Program. Working with youth and/or adults, students will provide one-on-one instruction, twice a week. This dynamic and interactive program, allows students to form meaningful relationships and to learn about the Dominican Republic since several classes are held in the homes of their Dominican students.
The program consists of several interconnected and engaging activities. Since Spanish is a phonetical language the first step is to use the “Pato Pita” phonetic reader program, flash cards and games, teaching basic sounds. Once the student accomplishes basic sounds, he/she documents his/her life through a series of student generated “literacy through photography” books. Taken with a disposable camera, the Dominican student narrates his/her pictures, creating a book. The Transcending Borders student has the option to develop additional books and resources, incorporating the daily life, culture and history of the Dominican Republic. The photo scrapbooks will be given to each Dominican student. However, the resources and additional reading materials created by the Transcending Borders student will be kept in the family literacy library.