Nothing ad hoc about basic school sector
The Early Childhood Commission (ECC) wishes to respond to the recent claim by Opposition Spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw that the early childhood sector is operating in an "ad-hoc" manner.
In keeping with the Government's strategic goal to improve the quality of early childhood care, education and development, the existing structure and design of the ECC have been crafted specifically for regulatory and operational purposes. Each early childhood institution (ECI) registered with the ECC is inspected and supervised by designated inspectors and development officers who are themselves supervised by senior staff members.
In April 2008, the ECC began inspecting ECIs against the established standards, based on the Early Childhood Act 2005 and the Early Childhood Regulations 2005. Since that date, and up to March 2015, a total of 8,004 inspections had been conducted, including re-inspections. All ECIs have received at least one complete initial inspection, which included both legal and voluntary standards. Each institution is scheduled for inspection annually. Between March 2014 and 2015, a total of 1,211 inspections were conducted at 2,693 institutions on record. There is, therefore, nothing ad hoc about the well-designed structure in place.
The Early Childhood Act of 2005 and the National Strategic Plans (NSP) of 2008-2013, and 2013-2018, have guided the operations of the ECC. Monthly, quarterly, half-yearly written reports are required and submitted in addition to an annual report. The first comprehensive cross-sectoral NSP was developed through the collaborative efforts of the ECC, the ministry, stakeholders and partners, and provided guidelines for ensuring that children at the early childhood level are given the requisite support to realise their full potential.
The NSP outlines strategic objectives in the areas of parenting education and support, effective preventive health care; screening, early identification and referral of at-risk children and households; safe, learner-centred, high-quality early childhood institutions and effective curriculum delivery by trained early childhood practitioners.
A number of World Bank targets that were set through the previous and current national strategic plans have been or are being met. Some of these are, as follows:
- At least 20 per cent of the early childhood parenting education and support programmes certified.
- The Infant and Young Child Feeding Policy approved by Cabinet.
- Three hundred children screened for developmental delays and referred for intervention within the Ministry of Labour and Social Security's Early Intervention Programme.
- At least 50 per cent of all ECIs received permits to operate, and some 400 teachers were certified by the Joint Board of Teacher Education in Early Childhood Education
These achievements were highlighted by a team from the World Bank on its visit to Jamaica, September 29 to October 3, 2014.
In keeping with the National Strategic Plan 2013-2018, at least 30 per cent of ECIs implemented development plans within the last financial year, enabling them to enhance the quality of their operations and manage change. By reviewing the priority areas, the development plans can also be used by stakeholders to hold the ECI's management accountable for children's performance.
Nothing ad hoc could have been funded in this manner and at such a high level.
The Early Childhood Commission