National Survey of Early Childhood Institutions Underway


A national survey to ascertain the state of readiness of all early childhood institutions (ECI) in meeting the requirements of the Early Childhood Act and Regulations is well underway and should be completed by the end of March.
Speaking at a JIS Think Tank, Project Manager of the Enhancement of Basic Schools Project (EBSP), Keith Samuda said that the survey, which is being undertaken by the EBSP, through Consultants, KOCI Market Research and Data Mining Services, would gather data that pertains to the standards, which all institutions would be required to meet when the Act comes into effect later this year.
The standards, which were developed by the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), refer to staffing; developmental and educational programmes; the physical environment; health; safety; nutrition; indoor and outdoor equipment; interactions between staff and children, staff, parents and the community; child rights; protection and equality; and administration and finance .
The survey, Mr. Samuda said, would provide a more accurate figure to the ECC, as it related to the number of ECIs in Jamaica, including quantitative and qualitative data about the state of the institutions prior to the start of the mandatory registration process, which was a requirement under the Act.
“What we are seeking to do is to visit each ECI.there is a questionnaire that was developed in collaboration with the Commission and the collectors are going into the field to check what exists on the ground in relation to what the questionnaire has in it in terms of readiness,” he pointed out.
“We will be looking for a number of things, for instance, the number of teachers, number of students, the training of teachers, whether the staff is trained or not among other things,” he added.
Mr. Samuda told JIS News that the feedback from collectors in the field so far has been positive, as operators and teachers have been cooperative. He urged other participants to cooperate with the data collectors by providing the required information, noting that the process was simply aimed at gathering information.
“Generally, people are interested and are helping the process, some are a little fearful that if they don’t meet the requirements of the Act that they might be asked to close their doors, but this is a fact-finding process. We are not there to take any punitive action against anybody,” he pointed out.
After collection, the data will be collated and transferred into a database, and then presented to the ECC, which would use the information as a point of reference when registration begins.
In explaining how this would be done, Project Officer at the EBSP, Freda Thomas, said that early childhood inspectors would refer to the information in the database, and so would have the pertinent information about the respective ECIs prior to their first visit. In addition, they would be able to ascertain the rate of progress the ECIs have made, in relation to the standards.
Research has shown that while there is 97 per cent accessibility to ECIs in Jamaica, significant improvement is needed in terms of the quality of these institutions, thus the implementation of the regulations and accompanying standards, which seek to make improvements.

JIS Social