Official Launch: Ground Breaking Early Childhood Literacy Manual for Eastern Caribbean

Sandals Barbados | Hands Across the Sea

Ground Breaking Early Childhood Literacy Manual Launched for Eastern Caribbean

Hands Across the Sea & Sandals Foundation Partnership to anchor literacy in the preschool environment.

The Eastern Caribbean’s first Universal Emergent Literacy program has been officially launched. The manual, titled Early Pages Program comes after a three-year pilot in Grenada and Nevis, and will immediately begin reaching some of the region’s most vulnerable students through dozens of preschools serving children ages 3-5.

An initiative of Hands Across the Sea, the Sandals Foundation helped to bring this important project to life through a USD $36,000 grant that fully funded the creation of a print and digital programmatic manual to support more than 500 preschools in the Eastern Caribbean -bringing much-needed aid to thousands of children and educators in the region.

“The vision is for the manual to become a fundamental resource that empowers preschool teachers and Early Childhood Units,” says Amanda Sherlip, Executive Director at Hands Across the Sea. “We hope this will be a transformational early literacy program in schools and communities.”

The Early Pages Programme (EPP) aims to raise childhood literacy levels and prepare children for lifelong success through 3 intentional actions: integrating literacy as an explicit aspect of the preschool environment; increasing parental engagement; and building awareness and community participation in early childhood literacy.

“The EPP manual and programmatic framework works in harmony with existing regional curriculum and assessment goals, and anchors literacy as an explicit aspect of the preschool environment, while supporting teacher professional development and readying students for primary school. In addition to the manual, the program relies on a preschool library collection which consists of Big Books, board books, and individual reader and lending sets, a series of orientations and trainings, and ongoing mentorship support, all of which are provided to partnering schools through Hands Across the Sea,” says Sherlip.

The program’s early pilot in Grenada and subsequent soft launch in Nevis both exceeded Hands’ expectations with increased parental engagement, community participation, teacher professional development, and student development. The manual has already made quite an impact in the region, with Hands Across the Sea invited to present the program to the 12 Eastern Caribbean countries attending the recently held 8th Annual Meeting of Early Childhood Leaders hosted in Barbados this October in partnership with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

All conference participants left with a program manual, and Hands is already in planning talks with several countries for the timing and strategy for launching the program in the upcoming school year.

“Through this partnership and investment, Hands Across the Sea has set its vision for scaling this vital program throughout all 6 of its operating countries. We also aim to make the program publicly available through Open Access to the digital manual.”

Heidi Clarke, Executive Director, Sandals Foundation says the Early Pages Programme comes at a critical moment for early childhood development in the Eastern Caribbean.A

Sandals Foundation Carl Beviere | Hands Across the Sea
Pictured above from left to right: Amanda Sherlip, Executive Director Hands Across the Sea shares moment with Carl Beviere Regional Managing Director, Sandals Resorts International (Barbados and Antigua) as the resort’s philanthropic arm has partnered to create the Eastern Caribbean’s first Universal Emergent manual, Early Pages Program.

“Since the Covid-19 pandemic, early childhood leaders across the region have reported a staggering rise in cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral challenges facing young children. The EPP framework encourages a personal, interactive, and highly participatory approach to early childhood engagement. At its core, it supports many of the most fundamental developmental needs of children at this very vulnerable stage in their growth. An area that the Sandals Foundation sees as fundamental to the growth of students.”

The philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International has been a longstanding partner of Hands Across the Sea, investing in capacity building workshops for parents and educators, as well as seeing to the creation and outfitting of literacy infrastructure in the eastern Caribbean since 2013.

Preparations for the upcoming 2023-24 academic year is already underway with 66 schools across the islands of Grenada, Dominica, Saint Kitts, and Nevis set to launch their programs with the transformative manual by their side.

Sandals Foundation Group Photo | Hands Across the Sea
Pictured above from left to right: Veda George, Coordinator for Early Childhood Development Dominica; Rafer Gordon, Project Manager OECS Education Development Management Unit; Amanda Sherlip, Executive Director Hands Across the Sea; Carl Beviere Regional Managing Director, Sandals Resorts International. Barbados and Antigua; Andrea Liddie, Resource Teacher, Early Childhood Saint Kitts; and Dr. Charmaine Christopher, Deputy Chief Education Officer, Early Childhood Grenada showcase ground breaking early childhood literacy manual at the 8th Annual Meeting of Early Childhood Leaders hosted in Barbados in partnership with the OECS and UNICEF

Hands Across the Sea is a US-based international NGO dedicated to raising the literacy levels of Eastern Caribbean children since 2007. Recognized as the most effective literacy non-governmental organization in the region, Hands delivers grassroots programs, critical resources, mentorship and professional development training for students, families, and educators throughout the countries of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. Hands Across the Sea holds a Memorandum of Understanding with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and is a Development Partner on the Regional Education Group working to support education reform and policy implementation across the Eastern Caribbean. To date, Hands Across the Sea has placed more than 584,000 new books into the hands of at least 211,448 children and has established 944 school and community libraries across the region.

Media inquiries can be directed to Executive Director Amanda Sherlip via email at or Whatsapp/Phone at Phone: +1-631-806-4116

Sandals Logo | Hands Across the Sea

The Sandals Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the United States, a CTA registered charity in Canada and registered charity- Charity Commission England & Wales that was created to continue and expand upon the philanthropic work that Sandals Resorts International has undertaken. It is the culmination of close to four decades of dedication to playing a meaningful role in the lives of the communities where we operate across the Caribbean. The Sandals Foundation funds projects in three core areas: education, community and the environment. One hundred percent of the monies contributed by the general public to the Sandals Foundation go directly to programs benefiting the Caribbean community. 

To learn more about the Sandals Foundation, visit online at or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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