JIS: Some 50 infant departments are to be established at primary schools across the island under the Early Childhood Rationalisation Programme.
Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator Ruel Reid, made the disclosure during his presentation at the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, today.
Reid said the Early Childhood Commission is currently working with the ministry's regional team to establish the infant departments.
In addition, he said that another 70 per cent of the Early Childhood Institutions are being identified to be budgeted for the 2018/19 financial year.
“So, in our new financial programme going forward, we are intent on providing the funding to transition these institutions into full public institutions,” Senator Reid said.
The administration allocated $50 million in the budget last year for renovation or modification works in primary schools to create infant departments in 30 schools.
Some 28 schools have been completed, and work is in progress on two which are close to completion. Reid informed that another $50 million has been earmarked in this year's budget to carry out additional renovation works in primary schools to create infant departments.
“Fortunately, the population has fallen over recent times by about 20 per cent and we are seizing the opportunity to use the excess capacity within the primary schools to attach infant departments,” he explained.
The minister said in the short term, children in all parishes will be provided with access to quality early-childhood infant school services that will positively impact their development.
“In the long run, the provision of high quality early childhood education will result in improved student performance at primary and secondary levels and a reduction in the remedial education and social dependence, including welfare and the criminal justice systems,” Reid said.
Meanwhile, the minister is encouraging members of the Diaspora to provide support to the Early Childhood sector.
He added that this is an area that the Government is targeting, “as we are all aware that the first one thousand days are the most critical in our children's lives.”
CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator Ruel Reid