OECS SEEKING READING SPECIALIST

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission is inviting applications from suitably qualified persons to fill the position of Reading Specialist to the “OECS Early Learner’s Programme”.

  •        PROGRAME PURPOSE

The overall purpose of this project is to improve the reading achievement levels of all learners during the early primary grades. Over the longer term, it is expected that this will contribute to overall improvement in student learning at the end of the primary education cycle. The OECS Early Learner’s Programme will be implemented among Kindergarten to Grade 3 students and their teachers in the six independent OECS Member States[1]. Specifically, the project seeks to:

Develop teachers’ capability to assess and to teach reading to children at the early grades of primary school.

Improve teacher competence in the use of diagnostic tools for the early assessment of children at risk of low achievement in reading at the primary level.

Introduce appropriate language of instruction to teach reading at the early grades.

Secure adequate instructional and practice time to reading in and out of school.

Develop and adopt/adapt as appropriate, teaching resources and learning materials for reading.

Design, develop and adopt appropriate intervention strategies for at-risk children

Design and implement a programme of assessment which provides better guidance for addressing student needs.

Make innovative use of ICT in the management and delivery of literacy improvement programmes across the OECS. This would include the use of Web-based teacher professional development resources. At their 22nd Meeting held in May 2012, the Council of Ministers of Education of the OECS endorsed a new OECS Education Sector Strategy (OESS) which will guide education development in the OECS over the next decade. To date, the Secretariat through the Education Development Management Unit (EDMU) and its Member States has begun implementation of the OESS.

2.0          BACKGROUND

The OESS is intended to harness and focus commitment in a concentrated regional effort to achieve set learner outcomes across OECS education systems. It outlines a shift towards addressing emerging trends among OECS States which were established in an analysis of the state of education. Seven Strategic Imperatives for improving education were identified as priorities which are reflective of national priorities. Each imperative contributes to strengthening different aspects of the education system. Additionally, the plan entails several development issues which are identified as cross-cutting themes which are addressed through the strategic imperatives, one of which relates to improving the levels of literacy, numeracy and technology among all learners.

Poor performance in English Language and in Mathematics continues to be an area of major challenge for educators and policy makers in the OECS region. At the early grades approximately 50% of students score below the national average in Mathematics and about 40% are under-performing in English Language. This situation is further compounded as there is an achievement gap between male and female performance throughout the primary school years.

The OESS recognises that there is a critical role for improving children’s abilities in reading, writing and mathematics if the region is to realise the vision – Every Learner Succeeds. Thus, as the region commences the implementation of the new education strategy, priority will be given to instituting measures to address these critical areas. During the period of implementation, the OECS Commission will pursue several avenues to address what is clearly an undesirable situation in the education system. This proposed project is the first initiative under the new strategy to address aspects of policy and practice that are essential to improve student learning at early primary.

3.0          Activity Description:

The project consists of four components to be undertaken, in the following areas:

Policy Improvement – under this component, the project will seek to develop Language Policies for introducing reading to children for whom English is not a first language; review of time allotted to reading instruction and for students to practice reading skills.

Teacher Training– the capacity building component includes the training of teachers to undertake early diagnosis of children’s needs, the development and implementation of a programme for in-service teacher training in reading and the development of a regional framework for the teaching and assessment of students’ reading ability.

Procurement of reading materials – this includes the procurement of appropriate teaching and learning materials- this involves researching existing reading materials available for students and teachers, development of prescribed list of reading materials, procurement of materials which are readily available to teachers and students.

Monitoring and Evaluation– this component involves the monitoring and evaluation of strategies and reading materials recommended, under this project at the national level to measure impact and effectiveness.Objective:

The OECS Commission wishes to procure the services of a Reading Specialist. The Reading Specialist will have responsibility for:

Providing overall technical oversight and guidance for all work in curricular and materials design, teacher professional development, assessment and research related to improving early grade reading instruction;

Managing the input of various employees and consultants in order to create a coherent, context-appropriate set of guidelines and documents usable in the early grades across multiple contexts;

Ensuring complementarities of approaches in reading across OECS Member States by liaising with government representatives and technicians on technical matters in order to achieve improved outcomes in reading for children in the region.

The duties and responsibilities of the Reading Specialist will include, inter alia:

Contributes to policy review and reform related to instructional time for reading, language of instruction, book printing and distribution policies, etc;

Advices on current trends and issues in the area of reading and literacy in order to propose options for policy, programming and reform for improving reading at the early grades in OECS Member States;

Guides the process of setting targets and benchmarks for reading performance, integrating these expectations with existing curricular demands;

Advices and guides the process of assembling or developing all early grade reading materials (decodable readers, supplementary readers, and textbooks) in all relevant languages under the OECS Early Leaner’s Programme, ensuring that these materials correspond to the expectations described in the standards framework;

Assists and guides the development of all training modules to ensure that they are directly related to the use of the approved early grade reading materials;

Develops and oversees the implementation of quality controls for all teacher trainings undertaken under the OECS Early Learner’s programme ;

Guides the process of developing classroom coaching protocols specific to early grade reading and oversees their implementation;

Guides the development of student assessment protocols that are coherent with the early grade reading performance standards, and oversees their generalization across the population of schools supported by the programme;

Assists in the development of the ongoing research agenda related to early grade reading, and supports the “feedback loop” between the completion of research activities and adjustments to the policy environment in early grade reading;

Assists with the sharing of knowledge and lessons learnt from exemplary practice in reading/literacy and other areas related to the OECS Early Learners Programme ;

Contributes to preparing and reporting on the OECS Early Learner’s Programme work plan;

Undertake related assignments by the Head; EDMU, Director, Social and Sustainable Development and the Director General.

Functional relationships
The Reading Specialist will be required to:

Function as part of a Project Management Team established for the purpose of managing the OECS Early Learners Programme

Reports to the Project Coordinator and Head EDMU;

Internal Contacts – OECS Secretariat personnel, beneficiary OECS Member States, Project and OECS Procurement Personnel and OECS Administrative Personnel;

External Contacts – Project Funders, Development Partners Officials, Consultants, Contractors and Suppliers, Commercial Bank Representatives and External Auditors.

Skills and Experience:

A post-graduate degree (Masters level or higher) in Reading or Literacy with a specialty        in early grade reading and/or curriculum development, reading instruction;

At least 10 years of experience in programmes that work specifically to         improve early    grade reading and or prior experience with the development of early grade reading     materials, training programs, classroom monitoring protocols, and tests and       assessments is required.

Excellent oral and written communication skills in English.

Ability to work as a member of a multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural team.

Ability to take initiative and to work with minimum supervision.

Demonstrated and sound competence in organising national and regional    meetings/workshops;

Experience in project management will also be an assetPreferred skills/qualifications:

Experience with multi-country and multi-donor projects.

Experience and skills in the Microsoft Suite of programmes, (including Microsoft Project,      MS Excel, Word) and database programs.

TERMS OF APPOINTMENT

The position is available for two years in the first instance with the possibility of renewal. The salary is tax free. The successful applicant will also be eligible for membership in the Organisation’s Group Health and Life Insurance. The Organisation will meet reasonable relocation expenses where applicable.

 

Applications are to be submitted for the attention of: The Human Resource Unit, Post of Reading Specialist, the OECS Early Learning Programme, Morne Fortune, P.O. Box 179, Castries, Saint Lucia and should reach us by January 10, 2014. Applications should include Curriculum Vitae stating nationality as well as the contact information of the present or most recent employer and that of two referees. Copies of relevant certificates should be submitted with applications.

Applications can also be sent via e-mail to oesec@oecs.org.

Only applications under consideration will be acknowledged.

[1]OECS Independent Member States are: Antigua and Barbuda; Commonwealth of Dominica; Grenada; The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

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