Thu | Oct 19, 2017

Jamaica's successful early childhood model to be a highlight at IDB HQ

Published:Sunday | September 27, 2015 | 11:04 AM
Students of Boys Town Infant and Primary School in Kingston are captivated by the contents of book being read to them by Karen Vaz.

WASHINGTON, CMC – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says Jamaica’s successful early childhood development program will be presented here this week.

The Washington-based financial institution said “Up and Learn”, an early childhood development program implemented over the past 20 years in Jamaica that has had a significant impact on education and workplace outcomes, will be presented at an event on Tuesday

Representatives of the Jamaican Home Visits Program will provide information on the methodology of “Reach Up: An Early Childhood Parenting Program”, the IDB said.

“Extensive evidence from the programme has shown that children who participated in the program 20 years ago not only did better in school were also happier,”  the IDB said.

As adults, children who had participated in the program had higher IQs, better mental health and demonstrated less violent behaviour, the multi-lateral institution outlined.

Adults also earned more money than similar children who did not benefit from the program, as shown in a science article by the Economics Nobel Prize winner James Heckman.

It said the programme in Jamaica entails home visits by trained practitioners who teach parents how to use the materials to teach their children; play activities using low cost toys made of recyclable materials; and guidelines that take into account cultural differences to ensure that the toys, games and other educational activities are relevant to the children.

The IDB said the “Reach Up” toolkit includes a weekly curriculum for children 6 months to 42 months old; training manual with demonstration videos that were filmed in Jamaica, Peru and Bangladesh; and a planning manual that helps countries tailor the program to fit their specific needs.

In addition to Jamaica, the IDB said the “Reach Up and Learn” program has been implemented in Bangladesh, India, Brazil, Madagascar and Peru.There are also plans to implement it in Guatemala, China and Zimbabwe.