Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, has reported that the Commission has inspected about 1,000 of over 2,000 institutions applying to be registered under the Early Childhood Act.
Since November 2007, the Ministry of Education began the compulsory registration of Early Childhood institutions, in a bid to improve the quality of service delivered to children at that level. There are approximately 3,000 such institutions operating across Jamaica.
Dr Samms-Vaughan noted that the inspection process is a very detailed one, that usually requires the inspectors to be in the schools for at least two days.
“We have to check financial records, we have to look at the programmes, the type of curriculum that is being used, the qualifications of the staff – so it is a very detailed, very detailed process,” she explained.
Director, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr Judith Leiba (second left), makes her contribution at the launch of the Commission’s fourth Annual Conference, at the Commission’s office, downtown Kingston Friday(June 12). Also pictured are Senior Project Specialist, Education, at UNESCO, Dr Namtip aksornkool (left); Acting Executive Director of the Early Childhood Commission, Winsome Johns-Gayle (second right); and Project manager of the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, Paulette Mitchell.
She says the Commission is still in the process of collating data for the first year, but expressed concern that some of the institutions have still not submitted their fire, public health and police reports to the ECC.
“Just the other day we heard about a fire in a day care in Mexico. The last count was over 40 children dying there, for simple reasons that didn’t need to happen: only one exit, and that was through the fire. This is the importance of us having the fire department go into schools and make sure they are safe,” she said.
Pointing to the reported outbreak of scabies at the Montego Bay Christian Academy, which forced the St James Health Department to close the kindergarten section of the school on Thursday, Professor Samms-Vaughan again stressed the importance of public health inspections.
She is urging all administrators of Early Childhood institutions to begin submitting reports, as the Commission will soon be clamping down on delinquent schools.
“We’ve been very lenient over the first year because it’s a new process, and we’ve had to recognise the newness of the process and the importance of sensitisation and education. But, there comes a point when you have to say you’re not doing what you need to do and this is causing harm to our children; you have to do better than this,'” she declared.