JIS: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says 103 early-childhood institutions have, so far, been fully registered by the Early Childhood Commission, and that another 300 will be certified in short order.
Delivering the keynote address at the launch of the Ministry/Joint Committee for Tertiary Education (JCTE) Symposium and Expo on February 28 at the St. Hilda’s Diocesan High School in Brown’s Town, St. Ann, the Minister commended members of the Commission for their work in ensuring that early-childhood institutions across the island are compliant with the Ministry’s operating standards.
He emphasised that the Government is committed to ensuring that a high standard is maintained throughout the entire educational system, through the adoption of the National Standard Curriculum, starting at the early-childhood level.
“This Administration intends to promote and uphold standards. We want quality education for all, so we are working with the early-childhood institutions to ensure there is capacity for all our children… and all get an opportunity and are well prepared and stimulated from early childhood,” the Minister added.
Senator Reid said the Government is fully aware of the challenges being faced by the sector and will be doing all that it can to ensure that no one is “left behind”.
He pointed out that, this year, the Administration will be seeking to launch two day-care centres in each constituency and engage stakeholders to be able to better advance the thrust of the Ministry.
“There are some vulnerable households with mothers sometimes under stress. They need to go to work, but they have nobody to leave their children with, and some of them, when they have older children, those children suffer because the older child has to stay home to take care of those children, and their education suffers. This Administration says that we will leave no one behind,” he stressed.
According to Senator Reid, the Ministry will also be seeking to engage private institutions aimed at “rationalising some of the current basic schools to become infant schools or infant departments”.
Meanwhile, the Minister said that plans by the Government to ensure that all students go up to grade 13 are part of the strategy to make sure that all students have full access to education and training at the high-school level, which will ultimately reduce the cost for a college education.
“It is a very novel idea if we can ensure that you do some of your credits in high school to make sure that they can be transferred to your other institutions to reduce your cost, so you stay in those institutions over a shorter period,” he said.
“Instead of creating a pyramidal education system, we are creating an education system with equity, so that everybody gets early-childhood education, quality primary education, quality secondary, and all get an opportunity for tertiary education. What a revolution we are going to have in Jamaica,” the Minister added.
To facilitate these plans, the Minister said that funding to the educational system was increased for the fiscal year.
“Our Ministry was able to increase the funding to our primary schools for our regular grant by 169 per cent. We increased the maintenance grant by a whopping 40 per cent; and we increased the contribution to our all-age and junior high schools from $11,150.00 per student to $19,000.00. We also distributed book vouchers for some of our very needy students up to $ 50 million,” he outlined.
The symposium was held under the theme ‘Creating Educational Opportunities to Enhance Sustainable Economic Growth and Development in Communities’.
Partners included HEART Trust/NTA, Centre of Occupational Studies, Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission, University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC), Caribbean Maritime University, The Early Childhood Commission, Career Advancement Programme, National Parenting Support Commission, Sagicor, Irie FM and Power 106.
CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid with grade-10 student, Atoya Anderson, of Frome Technical High School after delivering the keynote address at the launch of the Ministry/Joint Committee for Tertiary Education Symposium and Expo held at the St. Hilda’s Diocesan High School, in St. Ann, on February 28.