After observing that a significant number of young people were approaching librarians for help with their reading, Annette Wallace, then Executive Director of NALIS, proposed that a literacy programme be implemented through the national library system. Due to the specialised skill required to deliver a programme of this nature, she approached ALTA to be the executing partner in her vision.
The result was the 2008 launch of NALIS Youth Lit to provide effective literacy instruction to school students aged 16 and under whose literacy needs are not being addressed. The after-school programme for ages 9-11 (Standard 4) or 12-15 (Form 1 or 2) attracted great interest, but numbers are limited by the small size of available space and the ALTA ratio of no more than eight students per teacher.
At the close of the annual evaluation session in July, staff from participating libraries reported evidence of positive impact at school, with one student moving from a failing grade to B+.
Now in its seventh year, the Youth Lit Programme offers the ALTA programme at 10 libraries to more than 100 students annually aged 9-15, a target group not served by ALTA free community classes.
Diane Simeon, Director Public Libraries, commented, “The core business of libraries is to promote reading, but just offering services is not enough. We have to get people reading. Youth Lit is our signature programme to do this and we could only have done this with ALTA, whose tutors have the capacity to teach these special skills and the patience to do this!”
At the 2012 POS Youth Lit graduation Shekeil Williams read the following, declaring proudly at the end, “and I wrote it by myself”:
“I found that the course was helpful for my reading, in the way I speak to others, and how I replied to questions, so that I would be more easily understood. The programme has also helped in the way I looked at life. Before, I was not certain about the career I could follow, but now, that my reading level has improved, I feel that I can prepare myself for higher and more interesting jobs. This course has opened some doors in my life.”