Baker – SVG’s doing its part
April 16, 2010
Baker – SVG’s doing its part

Newly appointed Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Nicole Bonadie Baker says that she believes that this country is heading in the right direction when it comes to Early Childhood Development and is looking forward to working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).{{more}}

Baker, who attended a UNICEF hosted Mid Term Review of its multi country program strategies in St. Lucia this week, said that with the aid of regional and internal organizations, this country has moved ahead at a very acceptable pace.

“The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has invested significant amounts into the development of its Early Childhood Education (ECE) sub sector.”

“Through a government/ European Union SFA 2005 program, the government established six ECE centers in 2008; fully furnished and equipped.”

“Three others were financed by the government and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).”

The Permanent Secretary, who was appointed at the beginning of March, said that apart from the buildings and equipment, more than 25 privately operated pre-schools were upgraded, with another EC $2 million dedicated to equipment and supplies as well as the training of Early Childhood Development (ECD) educators, with the framework for management of these centers to be finalized.

The issue of ECD was a hot topic at the two day consultation exercise, with UNICEF officials and delegates from Grenada and host country St. Lucia indicating that more emphasis should be placed on this stage in a child’s life for them to be a better adult in the future.

Early Childhood Development Specialist Shelly Ann Harper told Searchlight that although her organization has not done much work with St. Vincent and the Grenadines, there have been discussions and both parties have expressed willingness to work together.

She indicated that she was quite pleased by the work done so far by the ministry concerning ECD.

“Areas for possible collaboration have been identified,” Harper noted. “In the area of improving systems for data collection, training for ECD practitioners and the curriculum, we see that we can offer assistance there.”

“UNICEF is also positioned to collaborate with the Ministry of Health… in the piloting of the Early Childhood Health Outreach (ECHO) program, which will emphasize early stimulation interventions for that 0 to birth age cohorts.”

Harper indicated that her organization has already identified Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada and St.Kitts and Nevis for ECD programming, and that they have already worked along with St. Lucia, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos Islands.

While admitting that there are challenges faced by her ministry in the ECD sector, Baker is of the view that with UNICEF assistance in the areas mentioned by Harper, along with regular monitoring and evaluation, the local ECd program will continue to move further and faster in the right direction.(JJ)