On The Wings of Words - A New Look at Literacy

“On the Wings of Words” is not ‘about’ the best - it definitely is the best organized response that we’ve had in the nation to the literacy problem.”
-Dr. Dale Bisnauth- Minister of Education (1992-2001)

Why do we need “On the Wings of Words”?
A survey of out of school youth conducted by the University of Guyana in 1995, showed that in some villages, up to 89% of these persons were operating at levels of literacy significantly below acceptable standards and would have difficulty reading and understanding a simple sentence connected with everyday life. Recent assessments carried out in selected regions indicate that the problem of reading amongst school-aged children is far greater than realized.

What is “On the Wings of Words”?
“On the Wings of Words” is a literacy training programme for volunteers and parents to promote pre-literacy and literacy skills in children and youth 4-16 years of age. Since the programme began in 1996 over 7000 facilitators from all parts of Guyana have been trained, and over 13,000 youth have gone through the programme.

The programme publishes its own manuals, readers, workbooks, and newsletters providing a comprehensive training programme for the facilitators and a successful reading programme for the children and youth. Funding has been received from the Bahá’í International Community, the Guyana Book Foundation, the British High Commission, UNICEF, and CIDA.

What are the aims of the programme?
The programme aims to develop:
• The necessary pre-reading skills to ensure success in early reading
• The ability to decode words
• Comprehension, critical reading skills and reading for enjoyment

A second part of the programme aims to:
• Equip parents to raise children to be good citizens
• Empower the youth to take control of their lives through improved consultation and decision making skills
• Increase self-confidence

In addition, the following activities are promoted:
• Caring communication
• Service projects
• Environmental awareness
• Creative arts

Why has this programme been so successful?
In addition to a systematic and effective method of teaching reading, this programme recognizes the need for moral and spiritual education, through the transforming power of the Word of God on the lives of the individuals.

Youth discuss different spiritual themes and memorize short quotations helping them to reflect on moral and spiritual concepts, which act as guiding principles throughout their own lives.
The themes are addressed during discussions at the beginning of each lesson and cover issues affecting the youth of today embodying the following principles:

• We are noble beings

• We are in control of our actions

• Our actions affect others

The youth, by examining typical issues, gain a greater understanding of themselves and society. This, coupled with improved literacy skills contributes to greater personal transformation leading to empowered, literate adults.

What will I learn at the training?
Part of the training focuses on the moral and spiritual aspects of the programme. This includes the importance of spiritual education of children, discipline techniques, and caring communication. In addition, talks and discussions on the power of the Holy Word are included, with special emphasis on issues affecting today’s youth, the nobility of man and the kind of youth the programme aims to develop.

During the training participants will learn different methods in the teaching of reading, the role of games, songs and drama in reinforcing skills learned, the making of teaching aids and games and how to use the manuals, reading book and workbooks effectively.

Do I have to be a teacher to be a facilitator?
NO! The parents and other facilitators trained to date have come from a wide variety of backgrounds. The only requirement is a love of children and youth, a commitment to attend the training, and to work with the children and youth regularly.


What is the cost of the training?
There is NO cost for the training!