December 14, 2007
The Nevis Reformation Party led-Administration is on a “warpath” against low levels of reading. So said Minister of Community Development, the Hon. Hensley Daniel, at a brief handing over ceremony at the St. James Primary School on Wednesday December 12, 2007, when he accepted a gift of books on behalf of the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) from United States Embassy Political Officer Mr. Arend Zwartjes.
He said most of the schools on the island had been outfitted with a library and that government had recently restructured the entire library services to include community, school and parish libraries.
“We intend to interconnect all of them through the internet service and also by sharing the material and also libraries at the community centres because we want to make sure that all of the aspects of our reading is included”¦we in the government are on a warpath against low levels of reading and that is why we are spending a considerable amount of money on school community and parish libraries.
“I believe this is an opportunity for us as children and adults to change the idea which says if you want to hide anything from black people put it in a book. I want us to see if we could work with these books and others to change that. We are not reading enough and as a result our level of understanding of local, regional and international events is not as sharp as it ought to be and I trust that this donation by the US Embassy will beckon us to do some reading,” he said.
At this time of year, when people are receiving gifts, Mr. Daniel said the donation had been the most significant for the year since it was intended to raise awareness and build knowledge of the students and parents in the community.
“Children, I don’t want the books in the library to be decorations, you are to read them and I hope that your teachers will set you exercises and stories based on these books.
Parents, please make sure that the children read the books when they take them home and most importantly take care of the books! If you borrow them please return them because when you don’t return them you rob somebody else of the opportunity to get the knowledge that you would have gotten.
“In today’s world you have to be extremely well-informed to be able to make sensible and rational decisions and to be well-informed means that books have to become your friends. Mr. Zwartjes, This is the best Christmas donation for all of the children”¦ it is better than any toy, better than any fruit cake. This they will digest and by digesting this they will grow into tremendous young and viable children who are much more marketable than those who do not read,” the Community Development Minister said.
He further challenged the school to organise a read-a-thon whereby the students would receive incentives according to the number of books they read weekly.
Head teacher Miss Vertilee Weekes received the books on behalf of the institution said that the students would accept the challenge of the read-a-thon. She also expressed her appreciation for the collaborative kind gesture of the US Embassy and Peace Corp volunteer Mr. Karthik Alagugurusamy, who chaired the ceremony and through whose instrumentality the book donation was possible.
In handing over the books to the Head teacher, US Embassy Political Officer, Mr. Zwartjes encouraged the students to read the books which told stories of black Americans who struggled through adversity and were able to overcome and rise to high levels of success. The stories he said, had powerful messages that could teach the children that no matter where they came from or who they were, they could accomplish their dreams.
Also in attendance were Associate Director for Peace Corp Volunteer in St. Kitts and Nevis, Mrs. Mavis Huggins, as well as students and teachers of the school.