JIS News

Approximately 200 early childhood stakeholders are expected to converge at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston on Wednesday (May 19), to assess the progress of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for Early Childhood Development at a mid term review.
The Early Childhood Commission (ECC), established in 2003 to improve early childhood development in the country, will be hosting the event. The NSP is a five-year plan, which takes into consideration all areas of early childhood development, including international and local development partners and Government ministries and agencies.
Speaking at a press conference Thursday (May 13) at the headquarters of the ECC, downtown Kingston, Chairman of the Commission, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughn, said the plan, which focused on developmental matters in its initial stage, is now at the end of its second year of implementation.

Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughn (left), emphasizing a point while addressing a press conference at the headquarters of the ECC, downtown Kingston, on Thursday, May 13. Beside Professor Samms-Vaughn is Country Representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Robert Fuderich.

She noted that the development of the NSP required consultation with stakeholders, parents and teachers. “So we had a lot of background work done, and now we are ready to share with the public the outcomes of those first two years (of implementation,”) she said. Implementation started in 2008.
The ECC Chairman stated that there is much to impart at the NSP mid-term review, including the development of a parenting strategy and parenting standards, as well as a nutrition strategy, which involves the formulation of menus and recipe manuals for all early childhood institutions.
As part of the development of high quality childhood institutions, Professor Samms-Vaughn noted that, through the NSP, standards have been established for early childhood centres, including an inspection process. She added that the ECC has also worked with the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) to create a level three programme, working with children with special needs.
“So we have so much to share with the public and, while we share with the public, we are also going to talk about the strengths we have identified along the way,” she said. She pointed out that the review will also look at the challenges and how to accomplish the tasks that ECC has set for the next three years.

Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughn (left),fielding questions at a press conference at the headquarters of the ECC, downtown Kingston on Thursday, May 13. Beside Professor Samms-Vaughn is the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF’s), Country Representative, Robert Fuderich.

Another aspect of the review, the ECC Chairman noted, entails implementing partners, ministries and agencies working with the Commission to look very closely at the next three years, to see what changes are needed, if any.
According to a booklet on the NSP, the Government of Jamaica now spends approximately US$73 million per year on early childhood development. This includes money spent in the health sector, social services and the education sector. The new services provided by the NSP will add US$17 million per year to the cost over the next five years.
“The Government of Jamaica will pay a large portion of this from the national budget. However, a World Bank loan of US$15 million will pay for about one-fifth of the additional cost of the NSP. The Commission will be working with local and international donors to fund other aspects of the plan,” the booklet read.
International development partners such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and local development partners, the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund and the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) have also provided support for the NSP implementation.
UNICEF’s Country Representative, Robert Fuderich, said that UNICEF is “very happy” to support the mid-term review, the ECC and Jamaica’s efforts to develop a quality early childhood development strategy.
“Not only are we going to reflect on the first two years, but we will also look at the gaps that we have and how we are going to achieve the goals of the next two to three years to act out the plan,” he said.