JIS News

The Senate yesterday (Feb. 4) approved a Bill to Provide for the Regulation and Management of Early Childhood institutions and other connected matters.
Piloting the Bill, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, and Minister of Information, Senator Burchell Whiteman explained that the primary purpose of the Bill was for the advancement of the objectives of the Early Childhood Commission in its ability to govern the regulations, which the Bill outlines for the management of early childhood institutions in Jamaica.
Providing background leading to the formulation of the Bill, Senator Whiteman said the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture and its affiliate agencies had carried out an evaluation of the Early Childhood sector in 1995.
The evaluation, he said, highlighted the need for greater regulatory procedures as well as new standards for monitoring the lives of children aged three to six attending such institutions. He further explained that stemming from the evaluation, a National Integration Policy came into being, bringing day care and Early Childhood education together under the umbrella of the Education Ministry.
Senator Whiteman said the Bill would detail acceptable standards for institutions to operate as it related to the educational and physical wellbeing of their young charges. He said the passage of the legislation was also geared towards the creation of a safe, modern environment for children to receive the best possible care.
The Bill seeks to bring the 2,008 Early Childhood institutions to be legally registered by the Early Childhood Commission. Of the total number of schools in operation some 1,834 are currently recognised by the Ministry.
Meanwhile, Opposition Senator, Anthony Johnson expressed concern about the length of time being given for the registration of Early Childhood institutions in the Bill. He said the stipulated three months given for the institutions to submit applications to officially register their institutions after the Act came into effect was unreasonable.
Senator Whiteman, however, explained that the three-month period was not definitive as the Bill made an allowance for later registration. He pointed out that clause 26 noted that where an application has been made, “the early childhood institution to which it relates may be continued pending the determination of the application.”
The Bill provides for the registration of Early Childhood institutions and the setting of standards for the operation of such institutions with respect to safety, sanitation, health and supervision and as regards the condition of the relevant premises. It also makes provisions for monitoring compliance with the legal requirements, by a system of inspection.