Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): The future of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the region has been the focus of a three-day meeting held in St. Kitts and Nevis entitled ‘Improving Access to Quality ECD Services: Strengthening Monitoring Mechanisms for Effective Planning and Decision Making.’
The May 26-28 workshop for coordinators, education officers and directors was organised by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Education Development Management Unit in collaboration with UNICEF.
The meeting is part of the OECS Secretariat’s effort towards improving data collection, for planning, resource allocation, capacity building and decision-making.
“Early Childhood Development must occupy a prominent position in our education system; our children must be exposed to formal education from a very early age,” said Minister of Education the Hon. Nigel Carty, noting that the region’s focus on ECD demonstrates its commitment to creating the atmosphere that will positively impact the lives of the youth.
Minister Carty shared that one of the key outputs of the meeting is the adoption of a proposed routine monitoring instrument that would assist in achieving and maintaining quality service delivery in the ECD sector in the sub-region.
“St. Kitts and Nevis is pleased to host this timely and significant meeting as we believe that it is by sharing that we learn, grow and develop hence, we deem it an opportunity for mutually beneficial outcomes for the ECD sector in St. Kitts and Nevis and in other member states,” he stated. “I wish to acknowledge the sterling contribution that is being made to the Early Childhood Care and Education Sector by the OECS Secretariat in actively promoting access to high quality early childhood care and education for the poor and vulnerable children in the region in particular. I recognize that the monitoring instrument is one of the critical steps being taken to achieve this very important goal.”
The Education Minister added that the monitoring instrument will “no doubt benefit the ECD sector in St. Kitts and Nevis because the concept of good governance and quality has been the mission of the Early Childhood Development Unit after the Government took responsibility for the development of the early childhood sector about 40 years ago (1975).”
Sisera Simon Education Specialist in the OECS Education Development Management Unit stated that the meeting will lead to a more cohesive approach to ECD in the region.
“We are hoping that together we shall test the instrument, visit centres, see some practices that we may want to share and adopt and most of all we are hoping that at the end of those three days we would have further strengthened a community of practice among ECD coordinators in the region.
There are 19 quality Government ECD centres in the Federation that cater to approximately 50 percent of the Federation’s children, primarily for the poor and vulnerable children and their families.