JIS News

The Child Development Agency (CDA) has embarked on a programme to upgrade the skills of persons working within public and private childcare institutions.

The first phase of the programme commenced in December 2005 with the training of nurse aides attached to childcare institutions, and will end in December 2006.

Funded by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) at a cost of $5 million, the project is being carried out by HEART Trust/NTA and is certified by the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET), through the National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J) programme.

Audrey Budhi, Director of Policy Planning and Evaluation at the CDA, told JIS News that the programme was necessary as there were some 600 nurse aides, social aides and duty officers working in childcare institutions, who had no formal training in their vocation. “We thought that to ensure the optimal care and protection of the children in our care, we have to make sure that these persons in these facilities are trained,” she informed.

It will also ensure that all the workers are certified in the area that they are operating. This, according to Miss Budhi, was “really good” because the workers, once given certification from NVQJ at both level one and two, could work anywhere. “With the Caribbean Single Market, they will be able to use this certification wherever they go within the region,” she noted.

The NVQ-J award is supported by a five- tiered certification system that has been adopted by CARICOM for use in the region. Elaborating on the programme, Miss Budhi said that participants would receive up to 600 hours of training. Class sizes, she added, numbered between 15 and 20 students. “We will be offering up to 21 units and we are dealing with basic communication skills. We also want to show them how to care for children with physical needs and how to facilitate play and leisure activities,” she pointed out.

The teaching of basic computer skills is also included. “We also look at customer training and entrepreneurial strategies,” she noted, adding that the programme would be assessed throughout the period.Miss Budhi said that the training would go a far way in creating more efficient institutions, thereby greatly benefiting children.

Plans are afoot to apply for another grant to fund phase two of the programme, which will facilitate the training of the social aides and duty officers.