Sun | Jun 24, 2018

Reid to heighten focus on early childhood learning

Published:Thursday | May 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Ruel Reid (left), minister of education, youth, and information, is being congratulated by Nicandro Juarez (right), president of Juarez and Associates, USA, shortly after giving the keynote address at the media launch of the Early Grade Reading Conference at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday.

Education Minister Ruel Reid has indicated that greater effort is to be placed on educating children in their most "absorptive years" through reading programmes, which would, in the long term, help to steer the country away from the infestation of crime.

Speaking yesterday at the launch of the Early Grade Reading Conference at the Terra Nova Hotel in St Andrew, Reid said that he would have to redirect the mandate of the Early Childhood Commission to focus on the zero-to-three age group in order to bring about the needed change in the country's construct.

The Early Grade Reading Conference is set for September 27 under the theme 'Get Reading, Right From the Start!' at the The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston. It will feature workshops and presentations, a kiddies' village, and several display booths.

The conference will be hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Latin America and the Caribbean READS Capacity Programme.

"Reading is very critical and fundamental to furthering the success in the education system, and while we have institutions such as the Early Childhood Commission, I will have to redirect their mandate because if we are going to be successful, we will have to focus on the zero-to-three age group," he stated.

 

KEY STAGE OF LIFE

 

Reid said that the first 1,000 days of a child's life are the most important and that his ministry was keen on making the policy the foundation on which the education system is reconstructed.

"We need to continually ramp up all the various aspects of early stimulation, and early reading is critical to that process," he added.

Andrew Coburn, the acting mission director for USAID, Jamaica, said that the agency continues to partner with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to improve early grade reading in most primary schools across the country.

"The agency has been successful in raising the performance of boys, introducing assessment tools used by teachers, and empowering youth to grasp the opportunities provided by institutions to give them tools for success in the world of work," said Coburn.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com