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Story Highlights

  • Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says parents should not panic if their children are slow to read at the early childhood level.
  • He said the focus at that stage should be on the development of the cognitive skills, which are related to learning, reasoning, and problem-solving.
  • Minister Thwaites said the Government of Jamaica has made early childhood a priority, with 14 per cent of the education budget focused on early childhood development and special education.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says parents should not panic if their children are slow to read at the early childhood level.

He said the focus at that stage should be on the development of the cognitive skills, which are related to learning, reasoning, and problem-solving.

In a recent interview with JIS News, Rev. Thwaites said it is imperative that early childhood students are nurtured properly and given all the tools to succeed, noting that “they are the seeds we sow for a brighter future.”

“Children don’t have to be able to read or know their times table at an early childhood institution. They need to learn how to learn so when they get to the stage of first grade in primary school, they are lively…confident in themselves…and comfortable in their own skin,” he said.

Minister Thwaites said the Government of Jamaica has made early childhood a priority, with 14 per cent of the education budget focused on early childhood development and special education.

“Our goal is to take that up to 20-25 per cent as we go forward. This is what is really necessary if we are going to create the foundation that will make personal aspirations and national development achievable,” he said.

Rev. Thwaites noted that as part of measures to improve early childhood offerings, the Ministry, in recent years, has merged 300 of the 2,600 basic schools to create over 100 better managed and staffed infant schools.

He said the aim is to link the infant schools with the primary schools so that there can be a synergy and connectivity at those levels.

“We have doubled the number of teachers in early childhood schools,” he noted further.

“We have raised their pay and are planning to give them a further increase. We are also committed to putting in a further 600 trained teachers under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) to give more personal and professional attention to students,” he said.