JIS News

Special Advisor on Early Childhood Education and Parenting in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Rebecca Tortello, has reaffirmed the ministry’s commitment to the development of the country’s early childhood education system.
Dr. Tortello said the Ministry’s new policy thrust was borne out of the recognition that the early childhood sector represented a “partnership between the government and the wider community, inclusive of local, non-governmental and international donor agencies as well as individuals.”
Additionally, she said the ministry accepted, as its duty, “the need to ensure (that) there is both access and quality at the early childhood level.”
Dr. Tortello was addressing an appreciation ceremony, hosted by the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge on Wednesday (December 12), to honour 25 retired basic school teachers for upwards of 40 years of service to early childhood education.
“The overall objective for early childhood development is to help ensure that all children, up to the age of eight, have access to quality pre-natal early childhood services. All children should develop to their full potential by meeting their survival growth and developmental needs in safe and caring environments,” she underscored.
Dr. Tortello, who deputized for Minister Andrew Holness, pointed out that the ministry’s Early Childhood Commission (ECC) has been leading several initiatives, aimed at achieving the objectives. These, she said, include passage of the Early Childhood, and Child Care and Protection Acts, compulsory registration of early childhood institutions, and training of basic school teachers.
“The training of teachers is a critical component of this process. In order to improve the situation, more of the 6,000 existing early childhood teachers need to be trained. This training has already begun with most basic schools having at least one trained teacher,” Dr. Tortello said.
She said that plans are afoot for the establishment of a national screening and referral system that would provide early and effective screening diagnosis and resolution of at risk factors.
In commending the retired teachers who were honoured, Dr. Tortello urged them to continue to “offer support to those who take up the mantle of nurturing our children’s intellect at that formative stage of their development.”