JIS: An Oversight Committee, headed by Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, has been established to oversee the development of a comprehensive strategy to revitalise the vision for Jamaican children eight years and younger.
This was stated by Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, during the Senate’s sitting on Friday, May 5.
The Oversight Committee will have responsibility for reviewing progress made in the early-childhood-development (ECD) sector against established Government targets and against internationally accepted ECD targets.
The Committee will oversee and monitor the review and amendment of existing legislation (Early Childhood Commission Act, 2003; Early Childhood Act and Regulations, 2005) and other relevant legislation for young children; and oversee and monitor the development of a comprehensive policy on ECD.
It will also oversee and monitor the implementation of a coordinated provision of quality programmes and services for young children; and oversee and monitor the development and implementation of a resource-mobilisation strategy to respond to the changing needs of the sector.
“We expect that the work of this committee will advance the early-childhood sector further towards internationally accepted levels of quality,” he said.
Among the areas recognised as imperative are improvements in the mobilisation of resources, development of a comprehensive ECD policy, review of Early Childhood Commission (ECC)-specific legislation and other relevant legislation for young children, and the delivery of coordinated programmes and services for young children.
“The Committee will not be limited to the activities of the ECC, given that the needs of young children are multisectoral. This will ensure that the role of early-childhood development in nation building is central to the work of all ministries, agencies and departments, private sector and civil society,” the Minister outlined.
He said a review of existing legislation for young children, including the Early Childhood Commission Act (2003) and the Early Childhood Act and Regulations (2005) and other relevant legislation, is necessary at this time to ensure that a comprehensive legislative framework is provided to meet the needs of young children.
The Committee, which will comprise no more than 10 and no fewer than six members, will last for three years and report directly to the Minister.
Senator Reid noted that a review of the composition of the Committee will be considered, following a suggestion from Opposition Senator, Floyd Morris, that a representative from the community of persons with disabilities be appointed to the Committee.
In the meantime, he urged Jamaicans to work with the Government in helping to raise the standards of the early-childhood sector.
“At present, some 2,700 early-childhood institutions need to be fully certified. Many lack the resources to attain an acceptable level of operation, but collectively we can do more. I commend the representatives of corporate Jamaica who have committed to, and are helping to improve the physical standards of many of our institutions,” he said.
The Minister noted that the ECC has been conducting public-education fairs across the island, increasing public awareness of operational standards necessary for certification, including the imperative of teachers obtaining a police record and medical certificates.
He said these measures are indicative of the Government’s commitment to lifting standards at the entry point to the formal education system.