Feature
A colourful new classroom with appropriate learning tools at Mason Hall Primary and Infant School in St Mary. The work was made possible through funding from the Culture Health, Arts, Science, and Education (CHASE) Fund under the Early Childhood Commission's (ECI) Early Childhood Institution certification programme.
Photo: Contributed

The Culture, Health, Arts, Science and Education (CHASE) Fund has invested millions of dollars to help 100 early-childhood institutions (ECIs) attain certification to provide the best learning environment to simulate young minds.

The certification initiative was implemented in partnership with the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) as part of a three-year engagement targeting 300 ECIs.

Chief Executive Officer of the CHASE Fund, Billy Heaven, tells JIS News that the ECC certification “recognises that ECIs have met all the regulatory requirements to administer quality care and education”.

“CHASE’s contribution to the programme has helped approximately 6,000 children access quality early-childhood education through providing the ECIs with sleeping mats, sanitary fixtures, fencing, furniture, light bulbs, fans and other amenities,” he notes.

The ECC has 12 operational standards that must be met by ECIs for them to be certified.

These relate to Staffing; Developmental/Educational Programmes; Interactions and Relationships with Children; the Physical Environment; Indoor and Outdoor Equipment, Furnishing and Supplies; Health; Nutrition; Safety; Child Rights, Child Protection and Equality; Interactions with Parents and Community Members; Administration; and Finance.

Phase one of the certification programme was completed in January 2019, with CHASE’s contribution benefiting 25 ECIs.

Mr. Heaven shares that phase two of the programme is ongoing and has seen some 70 infant schools benefiting from infrastructural development to meet the operating standards.

Mr. Heaven notes that there are approximately 2,707 ECIs in Jamaica, 271 of which are infant schools/departments, and of these, 75 have received a Certificate of Registration from the ECC.

During the 2020/2021 fiscal year, CHASE Fund directed $50 million towards attaining certification status for 30 ECIs.

“Since 2018, CHASE has contributed a total of $125 million towards this initiative being executed by the Early Childhood Commission,” Mr. Heaven notes.

Meanwhile, Community Relations Manager at the ECC, Tanisha Miller, says that the Commission is grateful for the support provided by CHASE Fund.

“School administrators and parents are elated when the institutions become certified, as it helps to create equality and equity across the board for their children. Often, institutions are willing to work with the Commission to be certified, but sourcing funding is difficult for them, so the Commission is appreciative of CHASE’s overwhelming contributions,” she tells JIS News.

She says donations from the CHASE Fund help the Commission to execute its mandate of ensuring the standardised administration and operation of all early-childhood institutions in Jamaica.

“A part of our mandate is to ensure that we are creating solutions that meet the needs of our children, parents, practitioners, and partners. Research has shown that early childhood is the most important period of life, as 85 per cent of brain development takes place before age five, thus providing the greatest opportunities to make the most significant and lasting impact.

“CHASE Fund has assisted with this development tremendously. Through their donations we have expanded the capacities of our institutions and the capabilities of practitioners and children,” Ms. Miller says.

She notes that the Commission welcomes the continued partnership with CHASE Fund as it assists more institutions.

“The ECC applauds the efforts and the trajectory of the CHASE Fund, which focuses on the importance of the early years and early-childhood development,” Miss Miller says.

Early childhood describes the period in a child’s life between birth and eight years of age.
It is the most rapid period of development, and a child’s experience during this time has an enormous impact on their health, cognitive development, educational attainment, socialisation, and productivity.

Skip to content