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Better must come! - Early Childhood Commission takes stock to improve its performance

Published:Sunday | December 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Dr Joan Reid
Students of Moneague Basic School performing during an event recently. This is one of the institutions monitored by the Early Childhood Commission.

The Early Childhood Commission (ECC), the State body mandated to coordinate the development of Jamaica's children from birth to six years, is conducting a review of its operations in an effort to strengthen its service delivery.

When completed, it is projected that the organisational review will make the Commission better equipped, aligned and staffed to carry out its mandate.

The World Bank has given Jamaica high marks for its progress in striving to reach the internationally accepted benchmarks, which also includes improvements and retrofitting of the buildings which serve as early childhood institutions.

However, executive director of the ECC, Dr Joan Reid, accepts that much more work needs to be done to achieve the goals set out in the current strategic plan.

"The objectives set out in that plan are aligned to Vision 2030, and so we need to align ourselves with that structure," Reid told The Sunday Gleaner.

"The structure needs to be revised so that we are better able to position ourselves in a way that we can meet the needs of the demands for early childhood development."

"Right now, we have over 2,700 (early childhood) institutions, and we only have 45 development officers with responsibility for supervising them. Right now, we are making do, but I think a revision of the structure would help us to do some more," added Reid.


Staff shortage


She conceded that the ECC is hampered by a shortage of staff and a number of issues outside of its control.

These include the unwillingness of parish councils to grant change-of-use permits for some of the basic schools which started in houses but have since grown to full-fledged basic and/or infant schools.

Accusing the parish councils of being tardy and sometime unreasonable in its demands, executives of the ECC told a recent Gleaner Editor's Forum that discussions are continuing as they try to have this problem, which is a major stumbling block, resolved.

The Commission has also been working to improve staff efficiency, with the establishment of Assessment and Registration departments, to carry out specialised functions.

"These are some of the things that a review would be looking at; how to staff these new departments in order to carry out the work more efficiently and effectively," said Reid, even as she declined to say more on the review process, not wanting to pre-empt the action.