Basseterre, St. Kitts — Investment by the People Employment Programme (PEP) in the training of Early Childhood Development practitioners is bearing fruit, and has earned the full confidence of a Resource Teacher with the Early Childhood Unit.
“I want to say to Mr (Geoffrey) Hanley (PEP’s Project Manager), that the PEP investment has borne much fruits today,” said Ms Valarie Dolphin during a PEP Early Childhood trainees’ Professional Day held recently at the Challengers’ Community Centre.
“Today I can say with full confidence that there is hope in Early Childhood. I am on my way out, and I would not have nightmares tonight but I would have pleasant dreams knowing that these are properly trained people (to take over). Ladies you are on a good path. You have been properly weaned and schooled and educated; do not let anything or anyone take this away from you. Take it and rub in it in your bosom.”
The 21 PEP Early Childhood Development trainees under Mrs Vanta Walters, retired Director of Early Childhood in St. Kitts and Nevis, took part in the Professional Day, held last month to coincide with the celebration of Child Month. They showcased not only what they had learnt, but also talked of their future plans as practitioners in Early Childhood.
“The objectives for organising the professional day, one of it is to allow the trainees to demonstrate today a high level of professionalism, both in their dress, in their speech, in their posture, in their attitude and so on,” explained Mrs Walters.
“Another reason I thought we had to boost their morale, their self esteem, their self confidence – helping them to get over some of their fears, their shyness and all of that. This will give them an opportunity to get over those. So, today is a big day for them.”
According to Mrs Walters, the final objective for organising the professional day was to give the trainees an opportunity to interact with the PEP staff and the other colleagues in the Early Childhood Unit, and other PEP teachers so they can feel a sense of belonging.
Present at the function included PEP’s Project Manager, Mr Geoffrey Hanley, his assistant, Mrs Beverley Williams, PEP Training Coordinator Mrs Celia Christopher, and PEP Training Facilitator Ms Juliette Queeley. Also in attendance were members of staff from the Early Childhood Unit, and the Supervisor of the Challenger’s Day Care Centre, Ms Joyce Proctor.
The highly emotional ceremony where each of the trainees read mission statement of their intended day care centres was chaired by Pastor Keith Warner of PEP while master of ceremonies was Ms Vericia Allen (a trainee). Trainee Ms Roseline Drew spoke on the nature of the professional day while another trainee, Ms Cynthia Benjamin gave the vote of thanks.
After watching one of the trainees perform a solo dance under the theme ‘Broken Chains’, PEP Project Manager Mr Geoffrey Hanley declared that “indeed the chains have been broken,” explaining that when the trainees came on board they had so much baggage that made Mrs Walters have sleepless nights.
“This is what I would call our PEP transformation, because when we started you weren’t seeing any smiles on a lot of the faces,” observed Mr Hanley. “There was a lot of baggage as Mrs Walters repeatedly reminded us and the fact that we are here and one can be testifying in the dance that the chains are broken, you have to believe now that the chains are broken.”
Mr Hanley said that listening to the mission statements by the Early Childhood Development trainees it proved to him that all it takes is just spending a little time in somebody’s life, and he personally thanked Mrs Vanta Walters for the patience she had demonstrated.
“This is just the beginning to what is yet to come,” promised Mr Hanley. “There are times when I hear of the negatives that people talk about the People Employment Programme but whenever I hear those negatives I always try to zero my mind into something that is positive and when I can recall and remember where these persons in Mrs Walters’ class were to where they are now, even those in cosmetology, that is the satisfaction that I receive.”
Ms Joyce Proctor, Supervisor Challengers’ Day Care Centre, who has had direct interaction with the trainees when they would come for attachment under her, commented that she had seen a great transformation in them and she thanked the People Employment Programme for doing such a marvellous job.
“When I first saw the girls their dressing, the way they spoke, it needed upgrading,” said Ms Proctor. “But after being in this classroom, I have seen a great transformation and I must commend Mrs Walters for doing a very excellent job because as someone said before, another person might have given up.”
According to Ms Proctor, when they came to the day care centre for practice they performed well by not just observing but assisting in a practical way and asking questions of things that they were not clear on, while they sought clarifications.
She concluded by saying that the People Employment Programme was an excellent programme that helped many persons to come along and she is looking forward to seeing the businesses they intend to start after they graduate.
“When they graduate, they will be of great use to the entire Early Childhood,” noted Ms Proctor. “I do not have room for any now, but if there is room I will certainly accept one of them (to work at the day care).”