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Early Stimulation Strategy to Give Children ‘Best Start’ In Life


JIS: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says that the Government’s early-stimulation/intervention strategy, which will be introduced in early-childhood institutions across the island, is aimed at ensuring that children “get the best start in life”.


He said that the strategy, which borrows from best practices in Canada, Cuba, Finland, Trinidad and Tobago and parts of the United States, is based on research about needs in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.


It addresses areas such as health, nutrition, development, stimulation, social protection, child protection and early intervention needs.


“This strategy was developed based on an analysis of the strengths and challenges of the current early-childhood development programme in Jamaica,” Senator Reid said.


“It will ensure that all early-childhood institutions in the country are registered with the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), and that they are certified, therefore meeting the 12 operational standards of early-childhood institutions,” he added.


Part of the strategy includes the introduction of special ECIs, known as Brain Builder centres, which will have trained early-childhood teachers and caregivers; upgraded facilities as needed; and are fully equipped with furniture and resource materials.


The Education Minister was addressing the annual meeting of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education and 11th Policy Dialogue Forum at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James, on November 6.


Representatives from 84 countries are participating in the five-day forum from November 5 to 9 under the theme ‘Strengthening teacher education: A prerequisite for quality teaching, training and learning’.


It is being hosted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through partnership with the Education Ministry.


The International Task Force on Teachers for Education is an international alliance coordinating efforts to provide qualified motivated teachers to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 – to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.


The Education Minister, during his presentation, urged the educators to embrace the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance professional development and training.


He noted that UNESCO’s ICT Competency Framework for Teachers, provides an important guideline to pursue such training.


The guideline is aimed at helping countries to develop “comprehensive national teacher ICT competency policies and standards, and to harness digital facilities for professional learning”.


Senator Reid said it will soon become necessary to address teacher education within “a broad and clear teacher policy framework”.


“This is why teacher policy development was introduced as an effective move to support countries to refrain from tackling teacher education as a stand-alone step,” he added.


He noted that the teacher policy development guide published by the Teachers’ Task Force (2015) seeks to analyse other dimensions of the teaching profession that intertwine and affect teacher education.


The Minister hailed the task force’s annual policy dialogue, noting that the forum provides a platform to promote a holistic approach to teacher policy reforms and share countries’ experiences.


CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, addresses yesterday’s (September 26) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.