Early childhood education is vital for the development of young minds.

This was pointed out by Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, as he addressed a graduation ceremony for 25 teachers who completed a certificate programme in Early Childhood Education from Wheelock College, Boston, at the PomMarine Hotel yesterday.

Outlining the rationale for training teachers in early childhood education and ensuring the provision of relevant facilities, Minister Jones reminded graduates and their families that Government had placed great focus on this area.

He added that some years ago training in this field had been rolled out as well as institutions to facilitate early childhood education and development.

Noting that this was expected to continue, Minister Jones credited the Maria Holder Memorial Trust for their collaboration in this sphere and the love they demonstrated towards ???the little ones???. The Minister revealed that with the Trust???s assistance and others in the private sector approximately six nursery schools would be constructed in a few years.

He said: ???In October of this year, we should have another institution being constructed to house our little ones-early childhood students in Christ Church???. I???m told that within a few months after that, somewhere in St. Philip another one will start??????

Speaking further on the rationale, Mr. Jones said if the notion of little children leading the way and being the future was to be taken seriously, then the right seed needed to be planted.

The former teacher said: ???And, in planting the right seed, we do it with the little ones [having] the best teachers, first and foremost, [having] the best facilities and we have to find people who love what they do, who genuinely care for all of our children but particularly our little ones, who are completely open to every idea, every thought, every suggestion, every behaviour that they see they emulate??????

Stressing the need to continue to make children literate and numerate and bring out all that they possessed inside, the Minister pointed out that there were also some global imperatives to be met such as the Education For All goal – of the provision of early childhood education. He acknowledged that this too had propelled the construction of these six facilities and training of personnel.

It was noted that Barbados was on the path of attaining universal access at the early childhood level but it would miss the United Nations deadline of 2015 for the completion of this goal for reasons related to economic and financial fluctuations.

However, the Mr. Jones pointed out that such did not affect the training given to this first cohort and would not affect future cohorts of teachers in Barbados??? system who want to be trained as early childhood educators.

???And, therefore, we have to continue to work with all of our partners to ensure that this is achieved.,??? he said, assuring those gathered that working along with the private sector, within three years, Barbados would be able to offer to every three-year old ???some form of education, childhood care and childhood development???.

???We would be possibly the first country within our English???speaking region to do that!??? he declared, noting that the Ministry of Social Care would continue to take care of the age group three and below.

The graduates were congratulated by Minister Jones on their accomplishments and the fact that 10 had achieved a perfect grade point average of 4.0. Noting that it was not easy to study and work, he said they could consider themselves ???shining lights in dark spaces???, and should continue to give the best to their young students.

Meanwhile, Director of the Higher Education Development Unit (HEDU), Dr. Patrick Rowe described it as a ???watershed moment??? to see 25 senior teachers go on to receive post graduate training in such a specialised area.

In his commendation, he said, ???It suggests that our young students are poised to benefit from knowledge transfer to their classrooms never before seen in this significant a scale.???

Primary school education here is expected to benefit tremendously from the participation of the 25 teachers in the year-long training programme which was a joint effort on the part of Wheelock College, Erdiston Teachers??? Training College and the Barbados Community College. It was coordinated by the HEDU and funded predominantly by The Maria Holder Memorial Trust.??


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