For three decades Moms for Literacy has been the embodiment of dedicated service and commitment, by successfully contributing to national literacy development via unique remedial reading intervention programmes, to meet the growing literacy needs of the children between the ages 4 - 17 in Trinidad and Tobago.
Led by Founder/Programme Director Amber Gonzales, Moms for Literacy has received stellar awards with The Medal of Merit (Gold) for Public Service in Education in August 2005 by the government of Trinidad and Tobago; the Citigroup NGO Appreciation Award in 2006; the United Way Most Active NGO also in 2006; the Pierrot Award from Gayelle community in 2007 and Programme Director Distinguished Service Award in 2009.
A college student studying.
As the name aptly implies, Moms for Literacy was birthed in 1992 as a Non-Profit organisation, by mothers. Amber Gonzales, being an impassioned educator and mother herself, held the vision that ‘every child has a right to read’, an ‘all inclusive’ philosophy which forged a new path to improving literacy. With two other mothers, she embarked on a campaign for parents who needed literacy support, recognising that the problem was originating with children in the primary school age group. Back then the national illiteracy rate in Trinidad and Tobago, 15 years and over was at a staggering 12.4% of the population (Trinidad Guardian, December 19, 1995).
This extended to nationwide purpose-driven community outreaches, local and international networking, partnerships, collaborations, and consultations; sharing Literacy Awareness, conducting parent/teacher conferences, workshop/seminars and tutor training. All of this while serving on various stakeholder committees such as UNESCO Literacy Committee, Ministry of Education Reading Policy and CETT Committees, just to touch on a few. Moms for Literacy evolved and was fondly coined the A to Z to Remedial Reading in Trinidad and Tobago; and thus the Remedial Reading Programme, with a unique maternal approach, for children in the primary school stage of learning was officially developed and launched. The programme targets children at different stages of development from 4 - 8 years old, and 9 - 17 years, specifically structured to motivate students, help build their self-esteem and level of confidence as both reading fluency and reading comprehension skills are improved. The reach, over the years has been to approximately 100 schools and communities. Moms has now broaden that scope with a vibrant online presence since the onset of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Woman reading in a library.
Moms - A Literacy-Rich Environment
The concept of transforming literacy learning spaces into one of a positive, nurturing environment with patience, emotional support and attention, has been Moms’ catalyst and critical role to equip young learners with essential literacy tools. The ‘Moms Approach to Reading’ has provided support to many concerned literacy stakeholders which include parents, schools and organisations; who recognised the difficulty children were experiencing learning to read and were seeking solutions. From the outset, Moms understood that the warmth of the right environment plays an integral part in the process of remediation, working with children from where they are, as opposed to where they should be; and showing parents how to do it. Children develop at varying pace.
This year, this approach has been perfectly aligned with the 2022 UNESCO International Literacy Day (ILD) Theme: Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces. Let’s take you on a closer journey of the Moms literacy-rich environment.
From the initial contact, of picking up the phone to call Moms or making that first visit, setting the tone is crucial. A systematic cyclical method of training begins by creating a warm setting. Preliminary interviews where needs are communicated, move through five stages of engagement:
A young girl reading a textbook.
Orientation plays a significant part. A well trained Moms staff promote the kind of social relationship that is conducive to a successful experience and outcome. Meeting with the child and ensuring the child is relaxed comprise elements of the second step which is an assessment exercise. A child must feel safe and secure. Thirdly, a programme is specifically designed, unique to each child. Following that, is the ensuring of a smooth flow, as the child submerges incrementally into the programme. Finally, is the evaluation phase that measures the achievement of the objectives that was set out. A strong monitoring and feedback element is present throughout the duration of the child’s experience. This is also mirrored in the organisation’s administration.
In conclusion, literacy and transforming literacy spaces is definitely a public health movement, which requires an, integrative approach via networking, consultation and collaboration, through uniquely designed programme interventions, that promote nurturing environments. It is important to provide encouragement and support to parents and institutions, to help them transition into a different value-based way of living that fosters acceptance, positive encouragement and reinforcement.
As the world commemorates International Literacy Day, Moms for Literacy, joins the celebration on our achievements as a country and wishes Trinidad and Tobago Happy reading and a well deserved happy International Literacy Day!
Moms for Literacy is located at:
No. 62 Eastern Main Road, Silvermill, San Juan
Telephone contact: 638-6667 (MOMS)/ 638-5440