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Shaming hurts non-readers

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Each non-reader has to overcome myths and attitudes to walk into a literacy class. 


The shame of low literacy is something we, the literate, introduce when we disregard the feelings of others who lack the skills.


To help, we begin this month’s series by asking readers to respond appropriately to non-readers around them. 


Avoid saying, “How come you can’t read?” It implies something is wrong with them, which they are often already thinking. Someone saying they don’t read well should be like saying you don’t sing well. 


Begin to eliminate stigma for non-literate adults by suggesting they get lessons if they want to improve, as with anything else—that it’s okay to start, whatever their age. 



Here are two students who shared their journey:



Kerwin, Level 2, Arima 


As a child growing up I was diagnosed with a sickness that prevented me from completing my primary school education. 


Most of my life as a child was spent in and out of hospitals. School was the furthest thing from my mind. 


As I got older, married and had kids who now attend school and need help with their school work, my desires to go back to school became a must not just for my children, but for myself. 


My family needed help which I could not have given to them. How could I answer questions and spell words that I don’t know?


With my low self-esteem and lack of confidence, my biggest fear was to let my kids know that I, their father, cannot read and spell words that they may ask me. Then boom! I was introduced to Alta. 


At first, I was ashamed to go and register for classes because I ask myself, “What a big man like me could learn in this day and age…” 


“Who was I fooling?” 


But, when I started classes it was different. The teachers were amazing! 


They taught me how to use words, like to…from…and how to sound letters. I was taught grammar: how to use nouns, adjectives, verbs… What are syllables and how to use them to pronounce words.


Alta is now the best thing in my life. Alta has given me confidence to be the best that I can in life. 


So to Alta I say, thank you, thank you, thank you; and to all the teachers of Alta, may God bless you and keep increasing your knowledge. 


Jean, Level 2, Arima 


Alta is a blessing for me. Why? 


All my life I thought to myself that I have no learning ability. So it made me very afraid to be around people. 


When I am in my group and there is a call to read I wanted to but I couldn’t. My thing was I couldn’t read well so I would bow out. It was sad.


Alta brought out the best in me from Level 1 to Level 2 which I am in. 


The teachers are very committed. I really enjoy going to my Alta class every Tuesday and Thursday.


I have improved in all aspects of my life. I am more outspoken, my English grammar is much better. I can stand out among the best. I can sit around with others and give my opinion. I can read 100 per cent better than when I came into the Alta programme. 


The sight words were very important to me. Thank you Alta for letting my inner light shine.


I attended my class regularly. Alta has given me hope, and a brighter tomorrow, it has opened the floodgate of my life.


Thank you, Alta, thank you teachers, because of you I can now believe that there is nothing I can’t achieve. Thank you, thank you.




Become a part of Alta. Volunteer, Donate, Sponsor a student. New student registration begins September 2 and 3. Call 624-ALTA (2582) or email [email protected] or find us on Facebook: Alta Trinidad.


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