JIS: The Early Childhood Commission (ECC) is deepening its engagement with existing partners and targeting new ones, as it seeks to certify approximately 300 basic schools by 2019.
One hundred institutions, with an enrolment of approximately 5,000 children, are being targeted under the initial certification phase, which commenced last September and is scheduled for completion in August 2017.
Board Chair, Trisha Williams-Singh, tells JIS News that the ECC has established collaborations with several national and international entities in helping the institutions to meet the ECC’s 12 operational standards.
These relate to staffing; developmental and educational programmes; interactions and relationships with children; physical environment; indoor and outdoor equipment, furnishing and supplies; health; nutrition; safety; children’s rights, protection and equality; interactions with parents and community members; administration; and finance.
“We already have partners like PACE Canada and the Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations (USA) Inc. (UJAA), who we are seeking to re-engage at a different level. We are also working with the National Education Trust (NET); Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund; and Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF),” Williams-Singh informs.
PACE (Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education) Canada was founded in 1987 by Jamaican-born educator and Canadian resident, Dr. Mavis Burke, out of a need to assist the island’s early-childhood sector.
The organisation sponsors a number of early-childhood institutions in Jamaica under the theme ‘Helping Kids Excel’.
The UJAA is a New York-based non-profit umbrella organisation of alumni associations of Jamaican educational institutions, founded in 1990.
It was created to assist in unifying the activities of member associations focused on improving educational opportunities for students in Jamaica, and those who have immigrated to the USA.
Mrs. Williams-Singh also cites the pivotal inputs of other entities and organisations, such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the Sandals and Digicel Foundations; Child Development Agency (CDA); Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF); Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ); Jamaica 4-H Clubs; Nutrition Products Limited (NPL); Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB); and United Way.
She says the ECC is looking to forge additional partnerships at the parish and community levels.
The move, she says, is already yielding positive results, with Director of the One Jamaica Foundation, Ann-Marie Vaz, agreeing to take on the role as the ECC’s point person in Portland, while Journalist, Barbara Ellington, has indicated her interest to work in Manchester.
Their role, she explains “will be to help institutions with capacity-building activities that enable them to attain the ECC’s standards”.
“These persons are volunteering their time because they want to see a better Jamaica. They understand that we have to get it right from the start and that if the foundation is not strong… all else fails. So we invite other well-thinking persons to work with us,” the ECC Chair tells JIS NEWS.
Mrs. Williams-Singh emphasises that the Commission is consistently seeking innovative ways to carry out its mandate.
Among other things, the entity has improved the efficiency of communication with early-childhood practitioners and other stakeholders by introducing modern technology, which has reduced costs, while “providing instantaneous information at their disposal.
Mrs. Williams-Singh says the ECC is also reorganising the staff structure, where necessary, to enable the attainment of “optimum outputs”.
In addition, the entity’s website has been revamped to make it more interactive, thereby facilitating greater inputs from Jamaicans at home and overseas.
She invites persons to visit the site at www.ecc,gov.jm. In addition, she says persons can communicate with the agency on Twitter @eccja and Instagram at earlychildhoodcommission.
Acting Executive Director, Karlene Degrasse-Deslandes, says the entity’s primary objective is ensuring that children’s educational development is administered in a way that enables them to “compete with any child anywhere in the world at any time”.
She tells JIS News that in carrying out its mandate, the ECC is also engaging parents in dialogue to ensure that the home environment is conducive to learning.
There are approximately 2,700 early-childhood institutions in operation across the island.
CAPTION: Early Childhood Commission (ECC) Chair, Trisha Williams-Singh (left), and Acting Executive Director, ECC, Karlene Degrasse-Deslandes, engage in discussion on sector developments.