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The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is seeking support through the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education Fund (CHASE) to finance aspects of the Brain Builder centres, which will be operated across the island.

“We are seeking operational and maintenance funding from (CHASE), as we (Ministry) will be paying the staff,” said portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid.

“We need to fully institutionalise these centres because we cannot talk about early-childhood education unless we begin at the earliest stages,” he added, noting that the discussions are under way.

Senator Reid was speaking at the official opening of the upgraded Edward Douglas Early Childhood Development Centre in Douglas Castle, St. Ann, on Wednesday (October 31).  

The Jamaica Brain Builders Programme aims to reduce cognitive learning challenges among infants in the country. It is a framework for action in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, which starts from conception in the womb to age two years.  Under this initiative, the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) will be responsible for establishing 126 Brain Builder centres across the island, with two in each constituency.

“We have to be mindful that during a child’s first 1,000 days, from conception to age two, the development of the brain is at its highest point, so if it is not properly wired by then, interventions later on will not necessarily work,” Minister Reid said in outlining the importance of the programme.

He is imploring parents to pay close attention to their children’s development so that any impediments can be discovered at an early stage and their education is not negatively affected later on.

“There is a normal time frame for children to walk, talk and recite sounds, among other things. You must be vigilant because sometimes, teachers think a child is only having difficulties learning, when in fact, they have an impediment,” he noted.

The Education Minister further encouraged parents to partner with the administration of the Edward Douglas Early Childhood Development Centre to ensure the holistic development of their children.

He also urged them to support their children and ensure that they remain in school.

Principal of the facility, Beverly Benjamin-White, thanked CHASE Fund for undertaking the upgrading works at the institution. “We are very happy with the results,” she said.

The school was renovated at a cost of $43 million to include the addition of three new classrooms, bathrooms for teachers and students, a kitchen, a lunchroom, an office and a sickbay. 

The facility was also equipped with a play area and perimeter fencing.