JIS News

The Government, through the Ministry of Education, has forwarded a submission to their Chinese counterparts, seeking grant funds amounting to approximately US $7 million, to build 17 additional early childhood infant schools.
Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, says this will form part of the administration’s thrust to increase the number of government-run infant schools islandwide, which currently stands at 31. These are currently complemented by some 130 established infant departments in primary schools across the island.
Speaking at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce’s (JCC) monthly meeting at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, on Thursday (September 23), Mr. Holness noted calls have been made for the rationalization of the early childhood sector, to enhance the provisions, especially from the government.
Citing that the administration “is already doing (this)”, the Minister pointed to concerns arising that the government does not have a “large presence’ in the early childhood sector. He said there are also concerns over the fees that parents, whose children are attending the approximately 2,800 privately-run institutions currently in operation, are required to pay. Further, that “we (government) are not necessarily meeting the standards that we should meet at (the) early childhood (level).”
“So the idea is (that) government ought to expand its service provisions. So the 31 infant schools that we operate, we ought to double that or triple that, so that more students can access the government’s service provisions: Which means that they would not have to pay fees to access those services. We are now developing a programme where we have identified the poorest communities, by virtue of the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) poverty map, and we plan to expand infant schools into those communities, to ensure that the poorest communities are able to access early childhood services free of cost,” the Minister stated.
Mr. Holness said the timeframe within which this undertaking is executed, is contingent on how soon a response is forthcoming from the Chinese government on the submission for the grants.
He also urged private stakeholders to partner with the government in expanding the sector’s facilities and other provisions.
“Where our private partners decide to build schools, we would say to them, ‘before you make your plans, come and sit with the Ministry of Education, let us show you where, on the poverty map, you should really build that school’,” the Minister said.

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