Early Childhood Act to Take Effect This Year


The Early Childhood Act and the Regulations and Standards for the monitoring of pre-schools, will come into effect this year, to ensure that all early childhood institutions have adequate provisions of the development of children.
Maxine Henry Wilson, Minister of Education Youth and Culture, who made the announcement during her contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in Gordon House on Tuesday (May 10), said the Act and Regulations will speak to the character of employees, physical surrounding, safety of institutions, programmes for child development and qualifications of staff.
She pointed out that satisfying the Act and Regulations, would place institutions at acceptable levels for the promotion of child development. “The Standards provide institutions with further motivation to move their school from acceptable to good. It provides more details in all areas for each specification,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, the Education Minister informed that at the beginning of the new school term, a situation analysis of all pre-schools would be conducted, to determine where institutions are with regard to the Act, Regulations and Standards. The process, she said, would allow accurate determination of the investment required to bring institutions up to the required acceptable levels.
As it regards staffing, Minister Henry Wilson said the Act and Regulations have set the minimum qualifications for teaching staff at Level 1 of the HEART/NTA competency-based training programme.
The National Task Force on Education, she noted, had advocated for Level II qualification, however the Commission, while planning to move to this level eventually, has settled on Level 1 as satisfactory in the interim.
“The intention is to continue improving the qualification of teachers at this important stage of children’s development. The staffing needs of the country’s early childhood institutions will be determined from the situation analysis and human resource needs will be matched against the capacity of training institutions,” the Minister stated.
This year she said, some 714 early childhood practitioners were in full and part time training at teacher’s colleges to augment the existing 265 educators. “We also promised that another 480 practitioners would be trained under the Enhancement of Basic School Project by the summer of 2005 and we have delivered,” the Minister said, adding that 480 Level II practitioners participated in residential training at Sam Sharpe, Shortwood and St. Joseph’s Teacher’s Colleges and will complete the second phase of the programme during this summer.
A career path in the early childhood sector, the Minister said, will be developed to ensure that persons who enter the system at any level will have opportunities to advance their training. This, she said, will require articulation of existing programmes.
As of June 4, of this year, Minister Henry Wilson said five early childhood principals and three supervisors will be sent to participate in a programme in Toronto, Canada. “These are all designed to provide the sector with the quality managers and teachers to ensure that the youngest ones get out of the starter’s block with a bang, instead of a whimper,” she noted.
The Minister encouraged the input of all stakeholders in early childhood development in improving the quality of early childhood education. To this end she said, a national public education programme on the importance of the early years and the new Act, Regulations and Standards has started and will continue throughout the year.

JIS Social