Some $60 million has been set aside in the national budget for the 2012/2013 fiscal year for initiatives to improve the quality of early childhood schools and care facilities, as well as to strengthen organisations and institutions delivering such services.
These objectives will be met under the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development -funded Early Childhood Development Project.
Up to February, 15 consultancies have been completed in the areas of parenting education, preventative health, screening and diagnosis, and curriculum delivery. In addition, a registration information system for inspectors has been developed, while equipment has been purchased such as laptops, desktops, tape-loader, printer, servers, and software.
As contained in the Estimates of Expenditure, which is being reviewed by the House of Representatives, the allocation for the fiscal period will go towards engaging short-term consultancies to achieve results in: the strengthening of the Early Childhood Commission’s parenting sub-committees; development and implementation of a national early childhood development parenting education and support sub-strategy; creation of an accreditation system and public awareness campaign; and establishment of a grant facility to support service providers in meeting accreditation standards.
There will also be initiatives in preventative healthcare, to involve: the reorganisation of well-child clinics; introduction of an accreditation system for health centres offering well-child services, and the strengthening of the referral system; transformation and scaling up of nutritional programmes to sustain achievements in reducing under-nutrition; and the continued introduction of the Child Passport.
Short-term consultancies will also be implemented to achieve results in the development of a national policy for screening referral and early intervention, a screening system for household level risks and its application to all households enrolled in the Income Support Programme; and the strengthening of the early intervention system through a new cadre of health professionals, who will address vision, hearing, speech, impairments and behavourial development challenges.
In order to ensure safe, learner centered, and well maintained early childhood facilities, the support system for early childhood institutions will also be strengthened.
By Alphea Saunders, JIS Senior Reporter