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Friday, 14 November 2014 16:17

Ministry to redeploy teachers into early childhood sector

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As the Government works to improve the educational outcomes of students at the early childhood level, the Ministry of Education is seeking to redeploy appropriately qualified teachers into the sector.

This was disclosed by Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, who noted that approximately 30 per cent of all early childhood teachers have formal training.

“We find that many teachers who have in fact been trained in the early childhood sector are teaching in other aspects of the education enterprise and one of the objectives of the Ministry now, is to redeploy them into infant schools, so that more and more of our children can have the benefit of trained teachers,” he said.

Rev. Thwaites was addressing the opening of the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust Early Childhood Conference, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, on November 12.

The Minister said the move is necessary, given that close to 30 per cent of children leaving the early childhood sector, “are not ready to undertake primary education, and we have to erase that deficit within the next three years.”

Rev. Thwaites noted that of the 2,600 early childhood institutions in Jamaica, 1,600 require the support of the Government. He said the administration is now seeking to bring those institutions together, to ensure that they are given adequate pedagogy; the children have adequate nutrition; and are given a standard curriculum to advance themselves.

The Minister lamented that many children go to school without adequate nutrition, and pointed out that the Government is working to address this, especially for the most vulnerable.

He noted that through budgetary support, and with assistance at the community level and where necessary, from Nutrition Products Limited, the Government wants to be able to offer breakfast and lunch to this cohort daily.

“It will probably have to involve well over 100,000 children a day, but it is absolutely necessary in this regard,” he added.

The core mandate of the Nutrition Products Limited is to provide nutritious snacks to students in public schools at the lowest possible cost. The initiative constitutes one aspect of the Government’s school feeding programme to provide a third of the daily caloric nutritional needs of students.

In the meantime, the Minister thanked the Trust for its 25 years of service to the early childhood sector, noting that D.R.B Grant, after whom the Trust is named, has significantly contributed to the sector’s development.

“His visionary conceptualisation of the transformation of early childhood education in Jamaica, his giving of structure to the movement – all of these are signal contributions to our future,” he said.

The Dudley Grant Memorial Trust was established in 1989 to commemorate the life and work of the late D.R.B Grant, who is known for his outstanding work in the development of early childhood education locally, regionally and internationally.

He is frequently referred to as the ‘Father of Early Childhood Development’ in Jamaica because of his extensive work in this area with policymakers, teachers, parents and children.

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