Chief Education Officer Melena Fontaine has advised that an Early Childhood Development Policy will soon be completed and adopted, with support from UNICEF. She said there is strong political will and commitment for the business of Early Childhood Development.
Fontaine made the announcement at an Early Childhood Development National Symposium held at the Arawak House of Culture on Friday, where she was delivering the feature address, on behalf of Education Minister Petter Saint Jean.
According to Fontaine “We will also be giving focus to the 0-3 age group, as we give attention to the Roving Caregivers Early Stimulation Program and the expansion of the Early Childhood Development Unit”.
She stated further that while the Education Ministry continues to establish community preschools at primary schools, “we are by no means putting an end to private initiatives. In fact, we want to encourage more private partnership in this venture”, Fontaine said.
Fontaine explained that the first 8 years of an individual’s life is referred to as the ‘foundation years’, but the first 3 of these 8 years are the most critical. “It is therefore important that all stakeholders, parents, guidance councillors and caregivers, pay special attention to what we do with, and what we say to our children in this developmental stage”, stated.
She encouraged expecting mothers to begin stimulating their children from the womb. “Read to them, speak good words to them, bless them, sing to them, play music for them,” she noted.
She added, “For those of you who already have children, especially children who are within the foundation years, more so the first 3 years, you also need to do the same.”
Fontaine told parents to be careful that the television does not replace them as a parent or guardian, while their child remains in a crib. “In other words, we are asking you parents, both fathers and mothers, guidance councillors, babysitters at home, caregivers at our daycares and the general public, to place emphasis on our children from 0 to 3”, she said.
Additionally, Fontaine said, “let us rethink early childhood development, let us ensure that we stimulate these children in a positive way, we need to speak with them and not always to them, we need to play with them, sing with them, we need to read with them and provide them with stimulating toys.”
She believes that it is important to guard against the television and other tools of technology becoming the babysitter. She stated, “While there is a place and time for them, we need to limit and monitor the time that our children spend with these tools of technology”.
The symposium was observed under the theme: “Rebuilding, Rethinking- Early Childhood Development.”
Current and past news stories.