Securing a future for our children
November 20, 2009

Securing a future for our children

Early childhood development took centre stage this week when a Roving Caregivers Programme (RCP) showcase was staged in St.Vincent and the Grenadines for the first time.{{more}}

The event, hosted by the Caribbean Child Support Initiative (CCSI) and the Ministry of National Mobilization, took place last Tuesday morning at the Aquatic Club.

The showcase was an exhibition of the work of the RCP in St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

It focused on the importance of play, the benefits of research, the role of income-generating activities, parent-child interaction and the social and economic value of investing in early childhood development and family support programmes.

It also sought to highlight the multiplier effects of a non-formal approach like RCP, to convince key government and private sector decision makers on the value of RCP and to present core early childhood development principles to help inform policy.

Susan Branker-Lashley, Programme Director for Caribbean Child Support Initiative (CCSI), said this week is Child Rights Week, and it was only fitting that the RCP was being showcased in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, recognising the rights of children to survive and thrive.

“We live in a region where poverty…begins very often at birth and that the consequence is children who are born into poor families are much more likely to have parents who have low levels of education attainment, low quality jobs and wages, and lower access to public services,” said Branker-Lashey.

She said this is a troubling fact of life that many children under five-years-old experience. She noted that a number of them are not reaching their development potential as a result of poverty, poor nutrition, and a lack of stimulation.

Equally troubling is that this cycle of untapped potential and lack of opportunity is often perpetuated, and consequently continues from generation to generation, said Branker-Lashley.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Mobilization Rosita Snagg reminded the audience that the children are the future.

“We need the children to come up, the youth to take our place. If we don’t programme for them, if we don’t take special care of them, we are not going to get what we are hoping for,” said Snagg, adding it doesn’t just happen by wishes. She said it happens when it is put into action.

Delivering the keynote address, Yvonne Adams, a past Rover/ECD Teacher, said her involvement in the programme has bolstered her understanding of child development and has inspired her to use it as an opportunity for upward mobility.

Adams said as a consequence of being in the RCP she started evening classes and to date holds passes in six O’level subjects, which includes English. She said she is presently pursuing Mathematics at evening classes and is completing the Level One programme in Early Childhood Education. Her dream is to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in the area.

She appealed to other care-givers to grab opportunities that may come their way with both hands.

Adams disclosed that between 2005 and 2009, 40 persons have received training under the RCP. She said during that same period over 500 children have passed through the programme.

Judith Hull-Ballah, SVG’s RCP Coordinator, said her organization will be seeking financial support for the programme.

She is also anticipating the programme would empower the young women involved.

The RCP is an informal early childhood development programme that seeks to reach children birth to three years of age who do not have access to any formal early childhood education.(HN)