UPEI launches literacy and numeracy outreach project with a significant donation from Master Packaging
The UPEI Faculty of Education officially launched an Island-wide literacy and numeracy outreach project on Friday, November 18, 2022.
The project is supported by a generous donation of $750,000 from Master Packaging. In recognition of the company’s support, a plaque will be placed in Memorial Hall, where the Faculty of Education is housed, at the entrance to the educational learning commons, which now includes updated resources made possible through the project.
The project, which takes a play-based and inquiry-led approach to children’s learning, is a coalition of partners, including Master Packaging, the Faculty of Education, the PEI Department of Education and Lifelong Learning, STEAM PEI, and the PEI Public Library Service.
The ultimate goal of the project is to support literacy and numeracy education on Prince Edward Island. Its objectives are to create opportunities for literacy learning in children that are supportive, playful, and recognize them as unique whole beings with hopes, dreams, and identities, and to focus on the needs of children who could benefit from additional supports to supplement mainstream educational offerings.
“Master Packaging has proudly supported literacy initiatives on the Island, and we’re thrilled to support this important outreach project as UPEI works towards providing better futures for our province,” said Ms. Mary-Jean Irving, CEO of Master Packaging. “Improving these skills builds self-confidence and creates opportunities that would otherwise not exist. This allows individuals to obtain more meaningful and fulfilling jobs.”
UPEI Chancellor Catherine Callbeck thanked Ms. Irving for her support of the project, noting that 45 per cent of Islanders between 16 and 65 have low literacy skills.
“UPEI’s Literacy Outreach Project will help those Islanders and make a real difference in their lives and the lives of their families,” said Callbeck. “That is why I am so proud to be part of this exciting announcement. This initiative would not have been possible without the incredible gift from our guest of honour, Mary-Jean Irving.”
Dr. Greg Keefe, interim president and vice-chancellor of UPEI, also expressed his appreciation to Master Packaging for supporting the project.
“On behalf of UPEI, I thank Master Packaging and Ms. Irving for their support of this important project,” said Keefe. “It is essential that children learn and develop strong literacy and numeracy skills from an early age. These skills are the building blocks of their future success—in their education, their careers, and their development as contributing members to society.”
With funding from Master Packaging and the PEI Department of Education and the support of the PEI Public Schools Branch and Island schools, the project held its first pilot program in July and August of this year—four eight-week play-based summer camps for 53 children in Georgetown, Hunter River, O’Leary, and Summerside.
“They [camp participants] lost themselves in their play so much so that they forgot about the task of learning,” said project manager Emily Cook-McDonald. “But they were learning every minute of the day.”
Cook-McDonald said the project is now offering play-based early childhood programs in collaboration with the Charlottetown Library Learning Centre and STEAM PEI.
“When we observe the young children and parents alike, we see engagement, curiosity, wonder, and the hunger to learn more. It is still early days in our early childhood pilot, but I can tell you the response has been very encouraging.”
This winter, UPEI education students at UPEI will work with schools to provide tutoring support to students who need it most, she said. In the future, math workshops will be offered for children in grades five to eight, and programs will be developed for adult learners.