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  • The Government has increased expenditure on early childhood education to $14.1 billion.
  • This represents 18 per cent of the Education Ministry’s recurrent budget.
  • Minister Thwaites lauded the work of several private and public sector groups in building and equipping early childhood institutions.

The Government has increased expenditure on early childhood education to $14.1 billion.

This represents 18 per cent of the Education Ministry’s recurrent budget. An additional $316.5 million will be spent on supporting and improving early childhood education.

Making the disclosure in his contribution to the Sectoral 2014/2015 Budget Debate in Parliament on Wednesday, May 7, Minister of Education, Rev. Hon Ronald Thwaites, said priority is being given to early childhood and special education, as investment in the sector can deliver “a 17-fold return.”

“The future of this country rests on effective education – passing subjects, acquiring skills, and developing character. The best way to balance people’s lives is to give everyone the opportunity for a sound education,” the Minister said. He also called for greater productivity, family life, and “high levels of employability.”

“It is educational accomplishment and the personal discipline, which is part of it that made our scientists, our professionals, our athletes and artistes great…if you want to step up ‘inna’ life, ignorance and underachievement are your enemies,” the Minister said.

Rev. Thwaites reported that the Ministry surpassed the 50 basic schools that were slated for upgrade last year, merging 68 into infant departments, and building two stand-alone schools.

For this academic year, the Minister said 200 early childhood institutions will be integrated with infant departments of primary schools.

The CHASE Fund has committed $87 million for repairs and retrofitting of 10 early childhood schools. Minister Thwaites lauded the work of several private and public sector groups in building and equipping early childhood institutions, noting that the Ministry would not have been able to implement the Early Childhood Rationalization Programme without partnerships.

“Over 50 million was spent last year on the programme. Tributes must be paid to the likes of Mr. Glen Christian, Chairman of Cari-Med Limited, who has not only established a basic school in Top Hill (Clarendon), using the cluster concept, but also will be building another in South West St. Andrew,” the Education Minister disclosed.