Caribbean Development Bank Flag
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
April 03, 2012 (SKNIS)
A regional conference being hosted by the Early Childhood Development Unit (ECDU) of St. Kitts and Nevis in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank, is seeking to ensure that investments being made in Early Childhood are optimized.
Coordinator Mrs. Jacquelyn Morris in addressing some 80 participants at the opening ceremony said the gathering was timely given the region’s present focus on increasing access to quality early childhood education to the poor, the disadvantaged and children experiencing other forms of vulnerability.
The Early Childhood Coordinator revealed that the three-day event which started on Monday April 2, highlights an awareness of and conviction that investments in human development during the formative years (birth to 8yrs) produces positive, long-term outcomes, especially for the most disadvantaged children.
Emphasizing The Caribbean Development Banks’ Poverty Reduction Mandate, Operations Officer for Education Dr. Martin Baptiste revealed that the bank focuses exclusively on advancing the cause of countries in the region to generate wealth, improve economic competitiveness and the over-all wellbeing of the region’s people.
He highlighted specifically the uniqueness of the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Programme which he indicated is well known for its capacity to focus funding in areas defined at the community level but aligned to national development priorities.
Mr. Baptiste reiterated the need for investment in ECD to be inclusive and comprehensive. He explained that there must be a focus not simply on providing the inputs for the ECD’s infrastructural needs by the construction of daycare and early childhood centres, but also multi-dimensional inputs designed to leverage resources to ensure that collectively, the responses needed for children to learn and develop, are properly articulated in the investments.
Regarding discussions over the three-day period, Baptiste challenged participants to be creative. He stated “We need to construct learning environments where stimulation happens and caregivers are competent and professional; where children are affirmed in their dignity as persons and where they grow to be free not only in St. Kitts and Nevis but across the region.”
Minister of Education Hon. Nigel Carty in his feature address applauded the Caribbean Development Bank for keeping Early Childhood Education in focus and providing an avenue for the enablement of Caribbean children to benefit from meaningful and worthwhile partnerships.
Re-emphasizing his ministry’s realization of ECD as a priority area in Education, Minister of Education and Information Hon. Nigel Carty announced the upcoming availability of an Associates Degree Programme in Early Childhood Education at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College in collaboration with the University of the West Indies starting in September.
Minister Carty referred to aspects of his ministry’s White Paper on Education Policy (2009-2019) including a strategy for access of vulnerable children to services which he said will be developed based on a detailed mapping of demand and supply in areas of most critical need. A costing study will promote valuable insights which would help in the formulation of a package of financial strategies for the early childhood sector.
The Education Minister expounded that the package will include financial incentives for the private sector to increase the number of services available to children from poor and disadvantaged families. He also highlighted intentions to engender strong links across services, professions, institutions and agencies to guide the effective and efficient implementation of early childhood services.