JIS News

Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson has said that the Government was aggressively promoting early childhood education and development, as part of its policy to improve the quality of education on the island.
She pointed out that research had shown that this was the correct direction for the government to take.”Our research findings have indicated that to get the quality output that we want at the end of tertiary education, we have to start from the entry point of the sector – early childhood education,” the Minister said.
“As a result, we are now aggressively promoting early childhood development in the Caribbean by maximising knowledge derived from cutting-edge research findings. Promoting child development requires sound knowledge of theoretical perspectives and the impact that theory, knowledge and practice have made internationally. We now know that it is absolutely imperative that we put a new, powerful and sustained focus on the early years – 0 to 8 years – before children even enter first grade,” she added.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson was speaking last weekend at the annual fund-raising ball for the Jamaica Basic School Foundation in London.
“We have recognised that without early learning, later education is more costly and less effective and the functionally less literate are likely to be at risk,” the Minister noted.
She said the challenge was to ensure that all children had the opportunity to benefit from a first-class education, making them capable of competing with any of their peers throughout the world.
“If there is any conviction that both Jamaicans at home and abroad share, it is that education is the driver for both personal and national development.
The quality of the education we received in Jamaica was affirmed when we came here to the United Kingdom or went elsewhere overseas. Not only were we not inferior to anyone beside whom we stood, but in many instances, we stood on a firmer foundation,” the Minister said.
She pointed out that it was in recognition of these imperatives and against the backdrop of public demand of “more” and “better” from the education system, that the Prime Minister in February established a Task Force to review the education system.
This review was now completed and as part of the review, the government had engaged in a series of meetings with education stakeholders.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson said that through the Early Childhood Fund, 50 early childhood institutions were refurbished and upgraded at a cost of $39 million, and that under another government funded programme, five new state-of-the-art basic schools would be built this academic year at a total cost of $200 million, each with a capacity for 300 children.
“We are not just providing quantity spaces for our young ones, but also quality teaching and learning environments,” the Minister said, adding that 12 new model learning centres would be constructed under the Enhancement of Basic Schools Project (EBSP). She commended the Jamaica Basic School Foundation for it efforts to enhance the fortunes of children in Jamaica.
The Foundation is the brainchild of Jamaican-born Josephine Williams. The organization works closely with the Ministry and the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust. Over the years it has provided financial and material support valued at more than

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