December 21, 2007
SVG to have Universal Early Childhood Education by 2010

This country will have Universal Early Childhood Education by 2010, as the Ministry of Education is determined to take Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves up on his challenge.{{more}}

This is according to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Laura Browne, who made that statement as she addressed the opening ceremony of the Education Project Management Unit/ European Union Media Workshop on “strengthening the link between the media and education”, on Thursday, December 13th, at the Anglican Pastoral Centre.

Browne said that although the task is challenging, just as challenging was the government’s policy of universal secondary access by 2005, but it was done, as this would be.

Chester James, the Project Director of the Special Framework of Assistance (SFA) 2003 project told the media personnel gathered that the SFA 2003 is focused on three main areas, of which early childhood education is one.

He said that $5.18 million has so far been spent on the early childhood education aspect of the project; focusing on the increasing of access to early childhood education, “primarily in rural areas”, the improving of the quality and the management of this education.

James said that as it regards access, some eight early childhood education centres are to be built in strategic communities. He noted that these centres that will be constructed by Government are not intended to replace, but rather complement the existing privately owned pre-schools.

Upgrading will also be done in 30 privately run schools, as part of the improved quality aspect of the project.

Additionally, 30 Pre-School teachers will go through a one year training programme, geared at improving the management capacity of these institutions.

Meanwhile, Chairman of VINSAVE Bernard Joseph, who was the featured speaker at the workshop, said that the media has a vital role to play in early childhood education.

Joseph said that the media can bring about change, and challenged the media to develop more material for children.

He, however, also encouraged the Ministry of Education to ensure that they present educational items that are newsworthy, so that the media will be motivated to carry such material and keep the nation abreast of the various noteworthy educational achievements.

The workshop was also addressed by Deputy Chief Education Officer Luis deShong who, among other things, stressed that early childhood education is a key component in social development. He suggested that proper early childhood education can help lower the school drop out numbers, as children will be better prepared to succeed. He said that it is important that the children get the right start because “when children begin school behind, they continue to fall further and further behind.” (KJ)