- Described as the father of early childhood education, Dudley Ransford Brandyce Grant, has left an indelible mark on the education landscape in Jamaica.
- Mr. Grant’s contribution to early childhood education was so impactful that the Bernard Van Leer Foundation in The Hague, Netherlands, which funds early childhood development programmes worldwide, including Jamaica, provided a grant to establish the Trust in his honour in 1989, after his death in 1988, so his work would continue.
- In 1999, based on Dudley Grant’s legacy, the Basic School Movement in Jamaica was selected by the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, in celebration of its 50th Anniversary, to be replicated in Africa and other countries worldwide.
Described as the father of early childhood education, Dudley Ransford Brandyce Grant, has left an indelible mark on the education landscape in Jamaica.
This consummate educator, whose career in education spanned over 40 years, led the way in the development of early childhood education, starting in 1941.
Born in Santa Marta, Colombia, on September 15, 1915, Mr. Grant came to Jamaica with his parents, where he attended Maldon Primary School in St. James, before continuing his education at Mico Teachers’ College in St. Andrew. He also pursued further studies at Cornell and Columbia Universities in the USA and Oxford University School of Education in England.
“Dudley Grant made a significant contribution to the education landscape and in particular to early childhood education, locally, regionally and internationally,” Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust (DGMT), Professor the Hon. Elsa Leo-Rhynie, CD, tells JIS News in an interview.
Mr. Grant’s contribution to early childhood education was so impactful that the Bernard Van Leer Foundation in The Hague, Netherlands, which funds early childhood development programmes worldwide, including Jamaica, provided a grant to establish the Trust in his honour in 1989, after his death in 1988, so his work would continue.
“He was the forerunner and trailblazer in the area of early childhood education in Jamaica, long before other developed countries,” Professor Leo-Rhynie says.
In 1999, based on Dudley Grant’s legacy, the Basic School Movement in Jamaica was selected by the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, in celebration of its 50th Anniversary, to be replicated in Africa and other countries worldwide.
The Professor explains that Mr. Grant had two concepts which he worked with – ‘functional interactivity’ and ‘educare.’
He believed in the interaction of socialization and education. He felt that children needed to be closely involved with parents, family members and the community and that the care and education of the child were critical through that interaction. That was his idea of, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, in the 1960s.
“Building unity and the idea of partnerships contributed to his view of educare and it was not just that you care for the children, but during that caring process you also help to educate them, because they are learning during that caring process,” she says.
“So, his ideas and the models that he set up in Jamaica, the Bernard Van Leer Foundation had them transported to places in Africa and other countries worldwide because of their success. What is happening in early childhood education now, to a large extent, is building on what Mr. Grant started,” the Professor tells JIS News.
Professor Leo-Ryhnie says his legacy in the area of early childhood education has been so important, that the Board of Trustees felt that there should be some recognition of his work in celebration of the centenary of his birth.
As part of the celebration, the Board is hosting a week of activities from September 13 to 18.
Meanwhile, Professor Neville Ying, also a member of the Board and a former student of Mr. Grant, tells JIS News that this distinguished Miconian played a critical role in implementing the Project for Early Childhood Education (PECE) in 1966, which was also funded by the Van Leer Foundation.
So successful was PECE under Mr. Grant’s direction, that the initial three-year experimental programme, formulated to apply certain current theories of learning and teaching and child development, was extended for another three years, ending in 1973.
Speaking glowingly of the man he called his mentor, Professor Ying says that his early memories of him were at the Morant Bay Elementary School, in St. Thomas, where he started a lot of his pioneering work.
“He was very passionate about education and in particular, early childhood education. I remembered him as an excellent mentor, someone who saw the potential in every child, and helped to develop that potential,” Professor Ying says.
The Dudley Grant Memorial Trust, which was established in 1989, has listed some of its achievements, such as the revision and piloting of the Early Childhood curriculum for children from birth to five years; the introduction of the roving caregivers programme in St. Thomas; a comprehensive evaluation of the national Early Childhood programme; facilitating assistance to retired basic school practitioners; offering annual scholarships/bursaries; and establishing a borrow-a-book programme in Early Childhood resource centres.
Some of the aims and objectives of the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust are: to advocate on behalf of early childhood development and inform national policy; to facilitate improvement in the management practices in the basic school system; document and disseminate research on early childhood development; to support the continued development of the Dudley Grant Early Childhood Resource Centre; and maintain links with traditional sources of support, identify new sources and increase the support available for early childhood development.