Guest Author: Phillip Rolle
Mr. Phillip Rolle, Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, and Coordinator of the Dominica Youth Business Trust, on how Hands Across the Sea is helping improve the literacy rate in Dominica
From an early age, my parents encouraged my brother and me to read often. Every week, we walked the short distance from my mother’s office to the Public Library to return last week’s books and pick up new ones for the week ahead. The Hardy Boys Series interested me, but I especially appreciated stories from Caribbean authors. I also took a keen interest in books that featured wildlife. In addition to the reading, my parents made us summarize the books to ensure that we were reading to understand.
Reading helped me improve my ability to write compositions and short stories, Looking back, I realize now that reading significantly impacted my development.
To be honest, I can’t say that I really fell in love with reading. However, I knew where I wanted to go in life, and I understood that literacy was a key vessel for getting me there. I understood that reading could help expand my imagination and creativity, build my vocabulary and language skills, and help me develop critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. I understood that reading could also help to improve my communication skills and, most importantly for me, increase my knowledge and understanding of the world around me.
Make no mistake about it, no matter how many times it’s been said, knowledge is indeed power.
Unfortunately, global statistics indicate that boys are often less likely than girls to engage in reading activities, which can put them at a disadvantage in their academic and personal lives. Reading can be seen as a “girly” activity, and boys may feel discouraged from participating in it. In Dominica, we face this reality.
However, a library is an important tool for remedying this problem.
A library is not just a place to borrow books, but it is also a valuable resource for education, entertainment, and personal development. A library will forever remain a safe and welcoming space for children to explore their interests and expand their horizons. They can find books on a wide variety of topics, from science and history to sports and adventure stories.
Addressing the challenges associated with reading requires collective action, from the teachers to the parents, to the community leaders, to the business owners, youth advocates, and the list goes on. Personally, my sole aim is to show students that reading can be fun. I wish for them to see reading as not just a task, but an avenue for countless adventures.
To continue improving the literacy rate, you must have the material. Without books, meeting this objective is almost impossible. This fact alone underscores how critical the interventions of Hands across the Sea are to Dominica and other small island states. The support of donors makes all this possible. It’s not simply about providing children with access to books, it’s about helping them create a successful future for themselves.