Early childhood education important to island’s development, says Acting Premier Brantley

Acting Premier and Minister of Education on Nevis Hon. Mark Brantley (back row extreme left) visiting UNICEF representatives and Education officials at his Bath Plain office. (Back row second from l-r) Chief of Education at the United Nations Children’s Fund office based in Barbados Dr. Wycliffe Otieno and Regional Education Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean Mr. Francisco Benavides. Front row (l-r) Early Childhood Specialist for UNICEF in the Eastern Caribbean Ms. Shelly-Ann Harper, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education on Nevis Mrs. Lornette Queeley-Connor and Early Childhood Coordinator for Nevis Mrs. Florence Smithen

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (SEPTEMBER 26, 2013) — Acting Premier and Minister of Education Hon. Mark Brantley described Early Childhood Education as a programme that was important to the development of Nevis. He made the comment as he welcomed a three-member team from the Barbados-based office of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at his Bath Plain office on September 25, 2013.

Mr. Brantley told the team, led by Chief of Education Dr. Wycliffe Otieno, that the programme’s success had materialised in student’s success in regional examinations.

“Clearly, Early Childhood Education is something that is very, very important to the island in terms of the island’s development… Certainly we are seeing the benefits of that in terms of the examination results and really in terms of our children’s awareness of education and the value of education going forward.

“So we feel that is an important thrust and we thank UNICEF for its partnership and its assistance to Nevis and to St. Kitts and Nevis and really to the Eastern Caribbean in assisting with this particular thrust. It is something that we are keen on here on the island,” he said.

The Minister explained that there were a number of pre-schools on the island that were developing at a rapid rate which provided a greater number of children with access to formal education at an earlier age.

He added that education was the only sure way of elevating people out of poverty and that was something the NIA was very committed to doing

Mr. Brantley, who is also the Minister of Tourism, told the team that they should use the short tour they were afforded as a launch pad to return to the island for a vacation.

“I am very happy that you have seen some of the history. Nevis is very, very rich in history. It is an island at which one point was the Queen of the Caribees; we think that it still is but certainly an island that we believe has contributed much whether it’s to the United States or to the United Kingdom or elsewhere. So we invite you to come and even though this visit is short, as you drive around to enjoy what we have to offer and hopefully you will decide to come back in the fullness of time…,” he said.

Other members of the team were Mr. Francisco Benavides, Regional Education Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean and Ms. Shelly-Ann Harper Early Childhood Specialist for UNICEF in the Eastern Caribbean.

While on Nevis the team met with officials of the Department of Education and visited schools among them the Gingerland Pre School, Charlestown Secondary School and the Violet O. Jeffers Primary School, a model education facility in the Child Friendly School project, before their second leg of their visit in the Federation.

The delegation was accompanied by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Mrs. Lornette Queeley-Connor and Early Childhood Coordinator for Nevis Mrs. Florence Smithen.

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