JIS News

Education Minister, Andrew Holness has announced a $200 million provision to assist in effecting improvements to early childhood institutions not yet registered with the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), which are deemed to be in breach of regulations governing their operations.
Addressing journalists at a media briefing held at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle offices in Kingston on July 30, Mr. Holness said the allocation would assist in facilitating improvements to the infrastructure and delivery of service of approximately 1,200 institutions, currently deemed to be in breach of the Early Childhood Act, the Public Health Act, and other environmental regulations. There are some 3,000 institutions currently in operation islandwide.
“These schools that are in breach would probably have to be closed by virtue of those breaches. But we do not intend to close any school, and therefore we must provide them with the funds to enable them to meet the regulatory standards,” the Minister explained, adding that the sum would be supplemented by an allocation from the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund.
Mr. Holness also advised that some 60 per cent of the 3,000 institutions have applied for registration with the ECC since the process commenced in November 2007, noting that this application was the “first step in regulation.”
“We acknowledge that it will take some time before we have all early childhood institutions applying for registration. Nonetheless, we are encouraging early childhood institutions to accelerate the pace at which they are applying, so that we can start the process of inspecting the institutions and granting full certificates for them to operate,” the Minister urged.
Noting that the process of inspection was built into the ECC’s framework, Mr. Holness informed that the body would now set the standards by which early childhood institutions must operate, and regulate those accordingly.
“We have over 35 inspectors who are presently inspecting the schools to ensure that they meet the standards, and where they are not meeting the standards, the development function of the ECC will kick in. So, the officers will work with those schools to improve the standards,” he said.