JIS: To reduce cognitive learning challenges among infants in the country, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, in partnership with the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), has launched the Jamaica Brain Builders Programme at a cost of approximately $540 million.
The launch took place on the playground of the Cynthia Shako Early Childhood Education and Day Care Centre, at the University of Technology (UTech), in St. Andrew, on Friday (July 6).
The Programme is a framework for action in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, which starts from conception in the womb to age two years. Under this initiative, the ECC will be responsible for establishing 126 ‘Brain Builder Centres’, with two in each constituency across the island.
The main objective of the Programme is to ensure that all Jamaican children get the best start in life by attending to their health, nutrition, total development needs, stimulation, social protection, child protection and early-intervention needs.
This project forms part of the plans for Jamaica to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 3, 4 and 16, as a means of ensuring that the children are prepared for life.
At the launch, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, said research has shown that the most critical period for a child’s development is in the first 1,000 days of life.
“The Task Force Report dealing with early childhood, did ask for us to build out more Public Day Care Centres, so I’m happy that we are transitioning with the new narrative that we call ‘Brain Builder Centres’,” Mr. Reid said.
“I expect now, that you [the ECC] will go forward with our Chief Education Officer, who will continue to monitor you, and we will provide whatever funding that you need. We have the funding in place for the 126 institutions. That’s $540 million,” the Minister noted.
He said with partnerships with other organisations in the future, he is looking forward to more centres being established.
“We can find additional physical spaces across the country to retrofit and to build out Brain Builder Centres… [which will] build a strong foundation where you’re going to capture all our children and make sure their brains are properly developed, so that they can transition into the early-childhood system, the primary through the national standards curriculum and the PEP programme,” he said.
Executive Director of the ECC, Karlene DeGrasse-Deslandes, said the new programme will help Jamaica with the development of the early childhood sector.
“Early-childhood development is one of the most recognised means of helping to build a country by reducing the negative effects affecting the society. I thank the Minister for taking it on,” she said.
Following the launch, Senator Reid and Mrs. DeGrasse-Deslandes officially handed over ECC certification documents to the Cynthia Shako Early Childhood Education and Day Care Centre.