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Primary Literacy Promoter

Project description

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

The goal of the Peace Corps’ Read to Achieve project is for Guyanese students to attain literacy skills that 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 projected national goal of 80% of the students meeting defined grade level standards in literacy or English, thus highlighting the need for supporting the country’s literacy initiatives.

Therefore, Primary Literacy Promoters work at primary/elementary schools in villages and towns throughout the country to support the Ministry of Education’s literacy curriculum in Grades 1-4, for children ages 6 to 9. They are in school 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 one-on-one student tutoring sessions, supporting students who need more directed learning and engagement in their literacy education. They conduct diagnostic assessments with students, arrange pull-out schedules and deliver literacy lessons. They also maintain records of the students’ progress to share and discuss with the Head Teacher and school staff.

Primary Literacy Promoters also work with teachers to strengthen general teaching skills, as well as specific skills related to teaching literacy, through modeling of teaching techniques, participating in communities of practice and assisting teachers in developing 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 involves developing and/or maintaining classroom and school libraries and training students and teachers to utilize the libraries as resources for improving literacy. Additionally, they collaborate with their teaching staff and the local Parent Teachers’ Association to increase community awareness of literacy and plan and implement support activities so parents and caregivers can help their children learn to read.

Other tasks include the following:

• Using Participatory Analysis for Community Assessment (PACA) tools to integrate and work with community members to identify secondary projects.
• Through Project Design and Management training create grant proposals for school/community-based projects.

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.

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 (Grades 1-4) who may be below age and grade level literacy expectations
• Experience teaching, tutoring or otherwise supporting early education of young children
• 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, spoken by nearly all Guyanese including indigenous people in remote communities. Other languages 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 a local indigenous language in their community.

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 savannahs and forests of the interior are dotted with small indigenous communities, some of whom still preserve their own language. The country is crisscrossed by myriad rivers, and transportation to and from the Volunteer’s community may involve a mix of a minibus, hired car, small plane, motorboat, or canoe.

Many Primary Literacy Promoters live and work in riverine or 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. The hinterland regions are the most rural areas of the country. They are vast and varied and include communities in savannah, forest and riverine areas. There is typically little to spotty cellular network and internet connectivity in some of these communities, so most Volunteers will be issued satellite phones for emergencies and to contact Peace Corps staff.

Living conditions vary, but Science and Environment Educators in all locations should have the ability to:

• Endure long rides on public transportation and over water
• Adjust to the high heat and humidity of a tropical climate
• Use a latrine toilet or flush a toilet with a bucket
• Wash clothes by hand in a bucket or tub or at a creek
• Take baths in a bathroom outside the home with a bucket or at a creek
• 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 (with a Peace Corps issued helmet) long distances (1-6 miles, roughly 2-10 kilometers) over uneven terrain
• Fetch water by bucket from a river or community well

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. 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.

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.

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.

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

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

Guyana can accept couples serving together. Your partner must qualify and apply for the following position:

Adolescent Health Promoter

Following training, couples in Guyana will share living arrangements, but will have separate work sites. Couples will work at neighboring communities (not more than 30 minutes apart) or in the same community but will be at different schools – a primary and a secondary. Although a couple will live together in service, each individual is expected to work at their own school and encouraged to have their own Peace Corps experience.

During Pre-Service Training (first 10 weeks) couples will live together with a host family. During that time, the couple will have their own bedroom and share common living areas with family members, including the living room, kitchen/dining areas and bathroom or latrine.

After moving to their community of service, couples may live in independent housing that meets Peace Corps Guyana’s safety and security criteria. Please note that independent housing may not be available in all communities and that some Volunteers may need to live with host families for part or all of service. We cannot guarantee a particular type of living arrangement and expect Volunteers to be flexible and adaptable.

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 couple 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.

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