Primary Literacy Promoter

Project Description

Known as the Land of Many Waters, Guyana has diverse culture and is rich in biodiversity.

The goal of Peace Corps Guyana's Read to Achieve project is to support the attainment of literacy skills by Guyanese students that can contribute to academic success. The Ministry of Education has an expressed goal of ensuring that all Guyanese children are reading at grade level by Grade 4. Small improvements in scores at the National Grade 4 and 6 levels have not translated into reaching the national goal of 80% of students meeting defined grade level standards in literacy or English, thus highlighting the need for additional support for the country’s literacy initiatives.

Therefore, Primary Literacy Promoter Volunteers work at primary or elementary schools in villages and towns throughout the country to support the Ministry of Education’s literacy curriculum in Grades 1-4, or for children ages six to nine. During their service, Volunteers work in schools at least 35 hours per week where they are supervised by the Head Teacher and work with an identified teacher counterpart.

Primary Literacy Promoters work directly with students through small group “pull-outs” and through one-on-one student tutoring sessions. These Volunteers conduct literacy diagnostic assessments with students, arrange pull-out schedules, and deliver literacy lessons covering the components of the Literacy Wheel, which include alphabet knowledge and sounds, phonological and phonemic awareness, and phonics. Volunteers also maintain records of the students’ progress to share and discuss with the Head Teacher and school staff.

In addition to this work, Primary Literacy Promoters collaborate with teachers to strengthen general teaching skills, as well as to support the attainment of specific skills related to teaching literacy, through modeling of teaching techniques, participating in communities of practice, and assisting teachers to develop appropriate classroom learning resources. They also assist teachers to incorporate gender equitable practices in their classrooms.
Depending on experience, Primary Literacy Promoters may have the opportunity to conduct technical training (e.g., workshops or professional development sessions) with the teachers at their school, as well as teachers from their regional cluster.

Outside of class, the Primary Literacy Promoters’ work-plan is dictated by the school staff's priorities. This work often involves developing and/or maintaining classroom and school libraries and training students and teachers to utilize the libraries as resources for improving literacy. Additionally, Volunteers collaborate with teaching staff and the local Parent Teachers’ Association to increase community awareness of literacy and to plan and implement support activities so parents and caregivers can help their children learn to read.

With the impact COVID-19 has had on the Education sector in Guyana, Primary Literacy Promoters will be exposed to a larger number of children whose reading skills may be below the expected grade level. These children may have suffered learning loss due to limited access to technology and the internet as well as the inconsistent supply of learning materials throughout the pandemic.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English/literacy.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• A strong desire to teach English/literacy to emergent readers
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Preschool, Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary Education
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with Elementary Education state certification
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with 1 or more school year classroom teaching experience at the Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary level. Full time Montessori teaching experience is also acceptable.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

English is the official language of Guyana and is spoken by nearly all Guyanese including indigenous peoples in remote communities. Other languages used in the country include Guyanese Creolese (widely spoken), and nine indigenous languages including Macushi, Wapishana, and Patomona.

Primary Literacy Promoters receive training in Guyanese Creolese language and culture during Pre-Service Training as well as a very limited introduction to the language spoken in their community. Emphasis is placed on self-directed, immersive language learning techniques to enhance Volunteers' ability to learn the local indigenous language spoken in the community where they will live and work for their 24-month service.

Living Conditions

Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America. It lies five degrees north of the Equator, and its climate is warm and tropical throughout the year. December to January and May to June are the rainy seasons. Guyana combines a Caribbean-flavored culture on the coast, featuring a mixture of Afro- and Indo-Guyanese influences, and a variety of indigenous cultures in the vast, forested hinterland of the interior.

Most of the population lives in a long, narrow strip along the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Venezuela to Suriname. The open savannah and forests of the interior are dotted with small, indigenous communities, some of which have preserved their own language.

The country is crisscrossed by myriad rivers, and transportation to and from a Volunteer’s community may involve a mix of a minibus, hired car, small plane, motorboat, and canoe.

Primary Literacy Promoters live and work in villages and towns along the coast, and in rural and remote communities in the inner hinterlands of Guyana. Large towns have power lines, communication infrastructure and running water, while many rural villages rely on solar panels, latrines and community wells. Cell phone and internet service are sporadic throughout the country.
Living conditions vary, but Primary Literacy Promoters in all locations should be prepared to do the following:
• Endure long rides on public transportation and over water
• Adjust to the high heat and humidity of a tropical climate
• Use a latrine toilet
• Wash clothes by hand in a bucket
• Adapt to a diet with limited availability and seasonal variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
• Live with limited or sporadic access to electricity, phone and internet
• Walk or ride a bicycle long distances (1-6 miles, roughly 2-10 kilometers) over uneven terrain

Professional dress and behavior are extremely important in schools in Guyana. School administration expects all teachers, including Peace Corps Volunteers, to adhere to the Ministry of Education’s Code of Conduct which includes being well-groomed, dressing professionally (slacks, belt and button-down dress shirts for men, dresses and skirts or slacks with blouses for women) and respecting the organizational structure. Guyanese teachers are viewed as role models in the community and are cautioned by the Ministry to display publicly acceptable behaviors when not in school. Primary Literacy Promoters will also be held to this standard as they live and dwell in the local communities.

While Peace Corps Volunteers of various gender expressions, gender identities and sexual orientations have served successfully in Guyana, it is important to note that Guyana has restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Primary Literacy Promoters will need to be mindful of Guyanese law and cultural norms and use their best judgment to determine how to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in the country and within their host communities. Peace Corps Guyana staff are available to provide support. They will address these topics during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms to help those who may experience a lack of openness and acceptance during their service. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.
Primary Literacy Promoters who serve successfully in Guyana are open-minded, flexible, emotionally mature and very resilient. They deal well with ambiguity and isolation and are proactive in unstructured settings. They are culturally competent and show respect by following cultural norms.

Serving in Guyana

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guyana: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Guyana welcomes Volunteer couples who wish to serve together. With one partner applying to this position, the other partner must qualify and apply for the Adolescent Health Promoter position.

During the 10-week Pre-Service Training, partners may be required to live in separate communities with different host families, depending on their sectors. Following Pre-Service Training, the couple will live together with a host family during the first five months in their host community, an arrangement that will support the couple's safety and community integration. During this homestay, the couple will have their own bedroom in a single family home and share common living areas with family members, including the living room, kitchen, dining areas, and the bathroom or latrine. Peace Corps Guyana cannot guarantee a particular type of living arrangement, and expects Primary Literacy Promoters and their partners to be flexible and adaptable.

After the first five months of service, the couple may live in independent housing that meets Peace Corps Guyana’s safety and security criteria. Independent housing may not be available in all communities, and couples may need to live with host families throughout their service.

While Volunteer couples in Guyana will share living arrangements, they will have separate work sites. Couples will work at neighboring sites (not more than 30 minutes apart). Individuals are encouraged to have their own Peace Corps experience.

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couples placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process, recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit:”

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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