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  • The Ministry of Education is reporting that it has placed trained teachers in the early childhood system, and is now moving to pay teachers more, implement programmes for special needs children, and boost the school feeding programme.
  • According to portfolio Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, more than 200 basic schools have been integrated into infant departments in primary schools, while another 250 “inadequate” basic schools will soon be upgraded to infant status.
  • The Minister, who was speaking in the 2015/16 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on April 15, said the early childhood teachers will be receiving a 15 per cent allowance increase in two tranches, following the 15 per cent raise they got during the last financial year.

The Ministry of Education is reporting that it has placed trained teachers in the early childhood system, and is now moving to pay teachers more, implement programmes for special needs children, and boost the school feeding programme.

According to portfolio Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, more than 200 basic schools have been integrated into infant departments in primary schools, while another 250 “inadequate” basic schools will soon be upgraded to infant status.

The Minister, who was speaking in the 2015/16 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on April 15, said the early childhood teachers will be receiving a 15 per cent allowance increase in two tranches, following the 15 per cent raise they got during the last financial year.

He informed that through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), early childhood institutions are getting trained teachers. “We have met last year’s target of hiring 200 early childhood trained teachers through JEEP, providing 480 basic schools with access to trained teachers. An additional 400 basic schools are projected to be so supplied for the 2015-2016 school year,” he added.

“We are also on track to meet the target of providing breakfast to 138,000 children. As of December 2014, we have been providing 126,000 children at the early childhood level with breakfast and lunch,” the Minister noted. He pointed out that the breakfast and lunch project is set to cost $2.2 billion.

Rev. Thwaites told the House that 20 per cent of the school-feeding budget will be spent on locally grown fruits, vegetables, tubers, eggs and other proteins, with an intention to increase that to 50 per cent over a three year period.

Children with special needs, which the Minister said number some 7,628, in 302 primary schools, will be in for intensified focus, so that they can have their potential realized in the public school system.

“In this regard, we have established a diagnostic and therapy clinic for pre-school children at the Voluntary Organisation for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH), in conjunction with the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), the Rotary Club and other partners,” Rev. Thwaites said.

He pointed out that similar diagnostic facilities will be established in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, while the Mico Care Centre has established a Unit in Port Antonio, and the Ministry is set to open centres at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in St. James, and at Church Teachers’ College, in Mandeville, Manchester.

Other support to the children, the Minister said, will include the provision of additional training to 250 special education teachers, to better equip them to support students in need.

“All trainee teachers now receive special education training, without which they must not be certified,” he emphasised.