Early Childhood Education Still A Priority – Dr. Rhodd


Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Dr. Donald Rhodd has said that the Government would be continuing its thrust to improve early childhood education in order to produce quality students at the tertiary level.
He was speaking at the official presentation and unveiling ceremony of the University College of the Caribbean (UCC), formerly Institute of Management Sciences (IMS) and Institute of Management Production (IMP), at the institution’s campus on Worthington Avenue in Kingston on Friday, January 23.
Dr. Rhodd said that with more emphasis being placed at this level it was hoped that the standards of tertiary graduates would improve substantially in the years to come.
“The focus of Government’s Education Policy turns towards quality and efficiency,” the Minister stressed, adding that the 2001 White Paper on education placed emphasis on life-long learning and quality education for all.
“It underscores the importance of early intervention to compensate for a negative home environment, decentralization and school based management, increased allocation to education, moving it from 15 – 20 per cent of the recurrent budget,” he said.
Dr. Rhodd said that the White Paper focused on early learning and raising the functional literacy target to 100 per cent and sought to expand the upper secondary education through better preparation of students, and the offering of more places while improving teacher efficiency and school based management.
He said that to complement the present system, the Government would implement some new programmes, including the High School Equivalency Programme and a new mobile learning centre, which would be called the new Learning Arcades.
The State Minister also mentioned that places of safety, the prison and rural youth would be targeted.
Another new initiative, said the junior minister, was to develop the information technology skills of students by increasing the number of computer units available in primary and secondary schools.
“It is our goal to train our students to be world class citizens (who are) able to converse and interact with other students especially in this global economy. In parallel, we are implementing other measures to improve language proficiency in schools such as providing intensive English Language programmes,” he stated.
Turning to the launching of the UCC, Dr. Rhodd said that education played a key role nationally as well as internationally. “Unlike a generation ago, education today does not only determine the future of individuals but also the future of our economy and our society as a whole. Therefore, the aims and objectives of the UCC will ensure that the institution becomes a relevant and viable option for higher education in Jamaica and the region, and to benchmark the institution against professional practices and international standards. This is key to the prosperity of a society which is increasingly developing,” he said.
President and Chief Education Officer at UCC, Winston Adams in outlining the goals of the College said: “The UCC is now poised to look beyond Jamaica and to look at the possibility of supplying the need of other Caribbean islands. It is going to be playing an increasingly greater role in the economic growth and development of the region”.
The institution currently offers certificate and associate degree programmes and international degree and master’s programmes through Florida International University, University of Maryland and University of London.

JIS Social