Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says increased focus will be given to early childhood education as the government looks to enhance outcomes at all levels of the system.
In an interview with JIS News, the Minister said emphasis will be placed on the training of early childhood educators starting this summer, and more qualified teachers will be placed in schools.
In addition, infrastructure will be improved, with Food for the Poor to donate 50 schools for Jamaica’s Jubilee celebration, while the Chinese Government has committed to helping to construct others.
According to the Education Minister, building a solid foundation at the early childhood level is critical to restoring the priority of education as the legitimate means for social upliftment and development.
“We will have to re-think our early childhood education policy and operations,” he said.
He said research has confirmed that the period of early childhood marks the most active stage for brain development and growth and “it is therefore important that we maximise this time when the human brain is developing most rapidly, to instil the right social values, the right spiritual sense."
“We should also be cognisant of the possibilities of the child and be alert to the variety of issues, such as different learning styles, challenges and/or exceptionalities that may emerge at an early age,” Minister Thwaites stated.
He said the number one priority is to ensure that children coming out of the early childhood facilities are adept, properly diagnosed and begin to develop critical minds. This will prepare the way for our children to be literate and numerate by the time they take the grade four tests,” he stated.
Minister Thwaites noted that while budgetary constraints may prevent the government from doing “all of what we set out to do at one time, we have to make considerable sacrifice to make this work."
By Judith A Hunter, JIS PRO