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The curriculum for early childhood trainee teachers has been revised to facilitate training in the development of nutrition, health, and safety plans, Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, has announced.
Speaking at a media briefing at the Ministry of Education’s Heroes Circle offices in Kingston on July 30, Professor Samms-Vaughan said that new laws enacted require that teacher training in the development of these plans be incorporated into the curriculum at the training institutions.
“As of next year, that curriculum will include all that is necessary to meet the new legislation for teacher training. It will include children’s rights, the legal requirements for early childhood institutions, screening and early identification of children with special needs, and emotional development of children,” she explained.
The ECC Chairman pointed out that these are fairly new concepts in early childhood, adding that “a curriculum must always be reviewed and revised.”
“Now that we have all this new information coming out about early childhood institutions, we have to make sure that we put it into our training institutions, so that all our teachers can be properly educated and supported in the knowledge of what is best for our young children,” the Professor said.
On another matter, Professor Samms-Vaughan advised that the ECC has been co-ordinating a multi-sectoral committee, aimed at regulating and monitoring nutrition in young children, to address under-nutrition, currently running at about three to four per cent, and over-nutrition, which stands at between seven and eight per cent.
The ECC Chairman said the organization recently undertook a successful comprehensive pilot nutrition project in St. Mary, the results of which would be used to guide the development and implementation of a national early childhood nutrition programme.
“So far, we have developed a number of materials. we have developed a menu and a recipe manual for a 20-day cycle with special recipes for children who are vegetarians, and for emergency situations when you can’t turn on the stove, because the gas has finished, or when the electricity isn’t there. We have to ensure that we have recipes that meet all conditions and situations that occur in our country sometimes,” Professor Samms-Vaughan outlined.
The Professor added that operation manuals have been developed incorporating standards for food service operations, guidelines for purchasing, storage, production, service, and monitoring, and reporting of the nutrition status of early childhood institutions.
“We are now at the stage of developing and implementing an in-service training programme to coincide with the receipt of the menu and recipe manuals. The menus and recipes have been developed by the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI). They have been tested on children, and the children love them. In the St. Mary project, the children went home asking their parents for more fruits and vegetables, after having the meals that were developed,” the ECC Chairman informed, adding that all institutions would receive the menu and recipe manuals free of cost.