PEP’s contribution to Early Childhood Education hailed

Basseterre, St. Kitts — By the time curtains came down on the very successful 30th anniversary of Child Month, celebrated in June, the People Employment Programme (PEP) had been recognised as a key player in the development of Early Childhood education in the Federation.

Through the direct intervention of PEP’s Project Manager Mr Geoffrey Hanley, retired Director of the Early Childhood Unit in St. Kitts and Nevis, Mrs Vanta Walters, was taken out of her retirement to set up a training programme for early childhood educators which would be fully sponsored by the People Employment Programme.

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With Mr Hanley’s proposal, Mrs Walters immediately saw the benefits that would be accrued by the entire Early Childhood sector as it would mean that for the very first time, early childhood educators in the Federation would be trained before they made any contact with the children.

According to Mrs Walters, in all its existence the Early Childhood had been hiring untrained teachers for the nation’s day care centres and preschools, and would only have them trained after they would have worked with the children for a period of time.

“When the PEP Project Manager Mr Geoffrey Hanley called me and asked me whether I would be willing to come out of retirement and do the training course, it didn’t take me long to say yes because I saw it as an opportunity for me to contribute to the development of the nation’s children, and human development,” said Mrs Walters.

“It also gave me an opportunity to help the Early Childhood Unit advance their agenda because ever since I was there as the Early Childhood Director, there was a concern that persons were placed into the day care centres and into the preschools without receiving any initial training.”

A training programme was rolled out at the Challenger’s Community Centre with an initial 26 women training to be early childhood educators. The number has come down to 21 with some of the participants having secured jobs elsewhere.

The PEP Early Childhood trainees were first exposed to the public in Charlestown, Nevis, early in the Child Month celebrations on Friday June 6 when they took part in the Child Month parade, where Education Officer for Early Childhood, Mrs Florence Smithen, commended the People Employment Programme for offering to train early childhood educators.

“It is always a good thing to train adults to work with young children and those persons who are involved in PEP programme right now, having acquired the skill, they can venture out and have their own business, at least they would already have the knowledge and skill, in order to work with young children, so I think it is a good thing,” said Mrs Smithen.

She added that those being trained by the People Employment Programme would be helpful to the entire educational system because they will have been trained by the time the join the system, and she felt that it was a big plus for the early childhood sector.

“I am hoping though that those persons who are being trained that they would take the profession seriously and they would go on and get involved in that sector because if they move into something else, it would have been a waste of time and a waste of money,” observed Mrs Smithen.

She noted that while there was a class-based training programme on St. Kitts for early childhood workers, it was not so on Nevis. She however acknowledged and appreciated the fact that the People Employment Programme has employed early childhood workers in Nevis who are training at the various private early childhood units on the island.

“The Early Childhood sector is always in need of workers because as I understand it, the People Employment Programme pays the workers and that would help to lower adult-child ratio in the private sector, because some persons are really in dire need of having more workers on board,” noted Mrs Smithen.

“So yes, if they are to help the private sector by giving them one of two workers it would boost the Early Childhood sector more.”

According to Ms Kerlyn Jones, PEP Coordinator in Nevis, the People Employment Programme has ten participants who are training in the Early Childhood sector on Nevis. They are placed as follows: Naomi’s Day Care, two; Vern ‘n’ Llew, three; Steppin’ Stone, two; Montessori Academy, one; Marilyn’s Day Care, one; and Maude Smith Pre School, one.

The PEP Early Childhood trainees joined in the St. Kitts parade that was held on Friday June 27, where unlike the parade in Nevis, they had carried a banner and all had headpieces with the number ‘30’ designed on the front, and each carried a placard with information from their training module which they wanted to relay to the public.

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