JIS News

More than 800 of the island’s 2, 834 early childhood institutions have been given permits to operate, having satisfied some of the required standards.
Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, made the disclosure at a press conference held on December 9 at his National Heroes Circle headquarters in Kingston, to provide an update of the sector.
“We would prefer to have a larger number but we are cognisant of the difficulties that exist and we will be supporting the schools to improve that number,” he stated.
Under the 2005 Early Childhood Act and regulations, all early childhood institutions operating in Jamaica must be registered with the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), which is the regulatory agency for the sector.
As part of the registration process they must satisfy standards for health and safety (public health and fire safety reports and police records): and educational quality, including teacher qualification certificates. They must also pass a stringent inspection process.
Chairman of the ECC, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, explained that none of the institutions inspected have been fully registered, due largely to the lack of certified teachers, which she admitted, is a long-term investment.
She said that some have been allowed to operate having met the requirements for healthy and safety and inspections are continuing, at the end of which other permits are expected to be given. She said that all institutions will receive the necessary support to be in full compliance.
“About 1/3 of them have not yet had fire inspections, so it doesn’t mean that it is only 800 that are going to achieve permits. We have about 2,000 more police reports to get in for staff, which includes everyone who comes in contact with a young child. This is the first time that this is being done. The police records, the fire inspections and also the teacher training are absolutely critical,” she stated.
She made it clear that no permits to operate will be issued unless the Commission is assured and satisfied that all health and safety requirements have been met.
Since the registration of institutions started three years ago, 2, 277 institutions have been inspected with reports completed for 2,100.
Dr. Samms-Vaughan informed that 926 institutions have met the public health standards and 572 have met satisfactory standards in terms of food preparation and delivery.
Minister Holness, in the meantime, reiterated the Government’s commitment to the continued development of the early childhood sector, which he said, is a critical component of the education system.
He said that the Government has made “significant leaps” in terms of service delivery, curriculum development, parenting support, welfare assistance in terms of nutrition, addressing the health status of children, providing subsidies, and monitoring quality.
He informed that a strategy has been developed to improve support to parents to promote the development of their children. “It’s a very practical strategy.we will be using those facilities that already exist to (educate) parents and we will be training persons to train parents in being good parents and providing them with information,” he said.
Of the more than 2,800 early childhood institutions in the island, the Government fully operates and owns 32 facilities, and 98 infant departments, which the rest owned by communities or private bodies. The government provides a subsidy to all early childhood institutions.