Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 5th 2014 Contents BG14 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JUNE 2014 • WEEK ONE
Imagine for a moment if you had dif-
ficulty reading. Imagine how difficult
it would be to read the headlines on
a newspaper, understand food labels
at the grocery or even apply for a job.
This is the reality for many individuals
who attempt to sit the Point Lisas Energy
Association (PLEA) 10 examinations in order
to gain a PLEA 10 passport.
Our learning centre provides this certifica-
tion, which indicates to PLEA companies that
an individual has the required basic HSE to
enter and work on their facilities. Put another
way, failure to successfully complete this
mandatory examination means that an indi-
vidual will not be able to apply for jobs on
the Point Lisas Industrial Estate.
In order to cater for those who have difficulty
reading, we offer a PLEA verbal examination
in which a trained proctor dictates the exam-
ination to the examinee. Nevertheless, Figure
1 shows that most applicants who access this
facility (ie 55 per cent in 2012 and 64 per cent
in 2013) still failed the verbal examination.
With the recognition of this alarming failure
rate---a direct result of the low literacy lev-
els---the Energy Chamber, through its corporate
social responsibility initiative, found it necessary
to find a solution.
On February 12, 19 candidates from Couva,
Claxton Bay and environs enrolled in our pilot
"Aural, Read, Respond, Oral, Write" project---
ARROW---to improve their level of literacy.
Importantly, the programme not only assist-
ed in helping people to read, but it also inte-
grated aspects of health, safety and the envi-
ronment (HSE) training as a way of
simultaneously boosting literacy levels and
HSE knowledge in the workplace. Sponsored
by Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd (PPGPL),
the pilot was run by the non-profit Port-of-
Spain based ARROW Foundation.
How does it work?
The ARROW Foundation in Port-of-Spain
uses multisensory teaching techniques to devel-
op literacy skills in children and adults.
Every aspect of the ARROW method---orig-
inally developed by Dr Colin Lane from the
UK---is designed to strengthen auditory skills,
short-term memory and overall learning abil-
ity.Essentially, people improve their literacy
levels by recording and listening to themselves
while engaging in different programmes such
as reading, spelling, dictation, speech and lis-
tening skills. This comprehensive technique
has been used in literacy summer schools, in
mainstream and special schools across the
The ARROW technique has been known to
alter neural processes of students, particularly
with references to internalising skills. As a
result, children and adults have become suc-
cessful learners after overcoming their reluc-
tance to reading and learning, as well as low
self-esteem and behavioural problems.
First, ARROW administered the Schonell
Reading and Spelling Tests to determine the
participants pre-reading and pre-spelling
ages. On February 18, the tutors returned to
Energy Chamber and placed the individuals
on the ARROW programme. Over the course
of approximately six weeks for one hour a day,
three days a week.
Upon completion of their eight hours, each
individual was then re-assessed using the
Schonell Reading and Spelling Tests. The
ARROW programme was completed on May
Unfortunately, seven of the participants did
not complete the programme. However, during
the four-month period, there were marked
improvements in the reading and spelling ages
of those who completed the ARROW pro-
Improvements in the reading ages of the
participants ranged from a low of two months
to a high of one year and six months. Addi-
tionally, improvements in the spelling ages
ranged from a low of one month to two years
and three months (Refer to Table 1).
Participants were not only assessed on their
reading and spelling ages, but they also re-
attempted the PLEA 10 examination. Seven
of the 12 participants passed the examination
with an average score of 83. It is important
to note that some of those who failed attempted
the exam immediately after completing the
course without any revision of the HSE training
material. Therefore, it may be difficult to make
inferences about the impact of the ARROW
programme on the ability of those who failed,
to pass the PLEA 10 exam.
Soon we will be hosting a graduation cer-
emony for these successful participants of the
ARROW programme. Based on the positive
feedback from participants and the improved
pass rates on the PLEA 10 examinations, we
are planning to expand the programme with
the help of other sponsors. As usual, the Energy
Chamber remains committed to developing
the local skill set within the energy sector to
increase our local content and participation.
For more information on this article please
contact Nazera Abdul-Haqq at nazera@ener-
gy.tt. For further information on the ARROW
programme, please contact the ARROW
Foundation at www.arrowtt.com or 629-
Energy Chamber launches
literacy Participants of the ARROW programme undergo literacy training at the Energy Chamber's Learning Centre.
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