Rotary pioneers spread the word
PUBLISHED: 11:18 11 September 2013 | UPDATED: 11:19 11 September 2013
Rotarians across Lowestoft have unveiled a "pioneering" new project aimed at improving literacy levels.
The three Lowestoft-based Rotary Clubs are working with local primary schools to improve literary skills – as figures suggest that child literacy levels in the town are below the regional and national averages.
Last year, Rotarians distributed more than 500 illustrated dictionaries to 14 primary schools in Lowestoft – as every year six pupil received a special dictionary to improve their literacy skills. This came after the effectiveness of the dictionaries were trialled in one Lowestoft primary school in 2011.
But with particular concerns having been raised about the literacy levels of children in this area, the project has been extended this year – with hopes that support and further funding could lead to this scheme being rolled out wider in the future.
The three Lowestoft Rotary clubs are now working in partnership with all 21 primary schools in Lowestoft – meaning more than 900 dictionaries are set to be delivered to pupils in year three – a younger age group – this week.
With sponsorship from Karpet Kingdom and Persimmon Homes, the Rotary Clubs have bought the dictionaries which retail at £14.99 each, and are suitable for children aged nine.
Each of the Usborne Illustrated Dictionaries4Life will have labels fixed to them, bearing the name of the child who will receive it.
Later this month members of the Rotary clubs will visit the schools to present every child in year three with a dictionary – allowing every pupil to take pride and ownership in their very own dictionary, as it is hoped that these can become a useful tool for the youngsters.
The schools are also being encouraged to enter the pupils in a Rotary Young Writers Competition. This was run successfully in two local schools earlier this year with the winner going on to national finals. The intention after the presentations in September is for a thorough evaluation of the impact of these initiatives on the literacy levels of the children involved. This will be done in partnership with the schools and with the help of an independent specialist so that literacy levels can be effectively monitored and the impact of the dictionaries assessed.
Co-ordinator of the Lowestoft D4L project, Rotarian Paul Tabiner told The Journal: “We are almost ready for the 2013 project to begin and at the same time we are preparing to repeat it all again in 2014. The specially produced dictionaries, which are part of the Rotary International Literacy Project, have to be ordered by the end of December this year, for presentation to the year three pupils in September 2014.
“With this in mind we are keen to hear from any local companies or charities who might be able to offer some sponsorship to help with the cost of the dictionaries or the evaluation project,” he added.
The Dictionary 4 Life is part of a literacy programme reflecting Rotary International priorities supported by local Rotary clubs and in the UK is co-ordinated by the Rotary Club of Battersea, Brixton and Clapham.
Mr Tabiner said: “With the literacy level concerns we have, this will be an incredibly vital tool. This is a commitment from the Rotary clubs as we look to improve the literacy situation.”
As well as being supported by Rotary International, this project is being backed by Waveney MP Peter Aldous, the school staff and the head teacher at every primary school.
Mr Tabiner added: “We see this as a particularly exciting and important project and we hope that local businesses and companies can back this scheme – as at the end of the day, it will mean more employable people emerge in years to come. And if we can improve literacy levels then everyone benefits.
“Eventually we hope this pilot, pioneering scheme will become part of the school curriculum.”
■If you can help, and are interested in backing the project, contact Rotarian Paul Tabiner on 07897 602 363 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org