JIS News

Government has allocated an addition $200 million to assist early childhood institutions that are in danger of closing because they are in breach of public health and safety guidelines, Education Minister, Andrew Holness has said.
Speaking in the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 20), Mr. Holness said that this is in keeping with the government’s commitment that “no early childhood institution will be closed during the development phase of the regulations (governing early childhood institutions).”
He also advised that the cooperation of the Culture, Health, Arts, Science, and Education (CHASE) Fund has been secured in placing some of its resources for early childhood education under the “discretion of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) to be used for schools that are inspected and found to be operating critically below the standards of the ECC.”
The Education Minister informed the House that some 3,225 early childhood institutions have been identified arising out of a registration process conducted over a 90-day period, beginning November 30 last year, when the Early Childhood Act, which mandated the exercise, came into effect.
“(Some) 2,308 early childhood institutions have made contact with the Early Childhood Commission, or 72 per cent of early childhood institutions; we view this as a positive. One thousand, seven hundred (1,700) applications for registration have been submitted. or 53 per cent. We are not entirely pleased with the turnout, but this is better than what we expected,” Mr. Holness disclosed.
Of the 1,700 applications received, the Minister said that only 390 were properly completed, with 1,300 being deemed incomplete. He said letters have been sent out to institutions, which have not yet complied by registering, adding that the inspection process has commenced and that the inspectors that will make contact with those institutions yet to apply, and will be assisting them in making the applications.
“So far, we have engaged 35 early childhood inspectors and, to date, we have inspected 124 institutions, and what has happened so far with those inspections is that 50 of those institutions have received good reports, and, in fact, all inspected institutions have been given what is called a permit to operate,” Mr. Holness informed.
The Minister also told the House that the Early Childhood Commission recently, completed a loan agreement with the World Bank for a “performance-based loan” for US$15 million, which will be used to achieve targets set out in the National Strategic Plan for the early childhood sector.