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Gov't to merge 200 basic schools with infant departments

Published:Wednesday | October 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Thwaites

AS THE Government continues its reform of the early-childhood sector, the Ministry of Education has targeted more than 200 basic schools to be integrated into infant departments of primary schools by the end of the academic year. This follows the rationalisation of 70 basic schools last year.

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites made the disclosure during the recently held Early Childhood Commission's (ECC) 10th anniversary parish awards for St Mary.

According to Thwaites, the majority of the 2,500 early-childhood institutions islandwide suffer mainly from a lack of physical infrastructure and an effective management structure. "One strategy to improve the situation of these institutions is to merge them with existing infant departments of primary schools," he said.

Some 1,500 trained teachers are also to be deployed, so that by 2015, there will be at least one trained teacher available to every registered early-childhood institution.

Meanwhile, the education minister urged early-childhood practitioners to ensure nutritionally balanced meals are provided for students, with greater use made of local vegetables and agricultural produce to supplement meals provided under the revised nutritional programme that is being implemented in the new school year.

Up to 70 per cent of the early-childhood cohort is expected to benefit from free breakfasts and lunches. Provision will also be made for an additional 60,000 students, for a minimal charge.

The ECC has been marking its 10th anniversary with a series of parish award ceremonies to recognise the work of early-childhood practitioners and early-childhood institutions islandwide. Ten practitioners from St Mary who have given between 34 and 52 years' service were awarded plaques during the ceremony.