JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Education is targeting the merger and/or construction of 200 early childhood institutions in the coming school year.
  • The move comes as the Government continues to put measures in place to strengthen the early childhood programme.
  • In 2013/14, 68 basic schools were merged into infant departments along with the building of two stand-alone schools.

The Ministry of Education is targeting the merger and/or construction of 200 early childhood institutions in the coming school year.

The move comes as the Government continues to put measures in place to strengthen the early childhood programme.

Addressing the Early Childhood Commission’s (ECC) 10th anniversary function held on Monday, August 11, at the Tryall Club in Hanover, Western Regional Director at the Ministry of Education, Hillary Foster, informed that the Ministry has embarked on a programme to rationalize basic schools by merging them into infant departments of primary schools.

In 2013/14, 68 basic schools were merged into infant departments along with the building of two stand-alone schools.

The Regional Director said the merger of these schools will provide critical institutional support, which is already available at the primary level.

Turning to other initiatives at the early childhood level, Mrs. Foster said that the breakfast feeding programme will be expanded this September to reach more children.

She informed that free subsidized breakfast will be provided to about 200,000 students age four to eight, including those who are registered on the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

She said the aim is to ensure that the nutritional support given to early childhood students is improved.

She said data from a recent survey conducted by the School Feeding Unit, showed that about there are about 40 per cent of children, who are in need of constant supplement, while another 30 per cent sometimes go hungry.

In addition to improving the nutritional support, the Education Ministry will be placing more trained teachers in basic schools this academic year.

Mrs. Foster informed that one trained teacher will be assigned to 480 basic schools, who will have responsibility “to coach pre-trained teachers in the schools with no trained teacher”.

“This will ensure that another 480 basic schools will have access to trained teachers…moving the figure to 1,100 schools with access to trained teachers in the early childhood institutions island-wide,” she stated.

She also reminded the early childhood practitioners that as promised the Ministry of Education will, at the start of the new school year, be increasing monthly subsidies to institutions by 15 per cent with a similar increase set for the 2015/16 academic year.

Mrs. Foster said the Ministry of Education is moving to attract and retain the nation’s best early childhood teachers and practitioners in the local education system.