Early Childhood Education a priority for Government

The issue of educating Dominica’s children is one that the Labour Party Government continues to view with a high level of seriousness.

Dominica’s Education Minister Hon. Petter Saint Jean says a decision taken by the Roosevelt Skerrit-led administration back in 2005 to implement Universal Secondary Education (USE) is reaping rewards. The Minister told a recent press conference that the focus now is on delivering quality education.

He says to compliment this vision the government has recognized that focused attention must be placed on early childhood development.

“When we looked at early childhood education, we recognized that we needed to focus not just on educating our children from 3 to 5 [years] but to focus on the zero to five years.  Currently, the Ministry of Education and the Government of Dominica is expending significant resources at ensuring that every Dominican child is given an opportunity to access quality early childhood care and development.  In that regard, we have established a number of facilities using available space at our primary schools around the island.  Cabinet took a decision that we would pay the salaries of those teachers operating in those facilities.  To date we are seeing the results of this action.”

Hon. St. Jean says government has recognized that zero to three is the most critical stage of a child’s development.

“As a Government we cannot and I want to repeat… we cannot, not address the issues that confront children at this very early age.  Bearing this in mind, we actually had to revisit the Early Childhood Policy that was developed with a view to incorporate in [the policy] the zero to three age bracket.”

A collaborative effort by the Ministry of Education along with the Ministry of Community Development, Social Services and Gender Affairs and the Ministry of Health was made to addressing those issues.

The Minister noted that the Ministry of Education sought to establish systems and mechanisms within the secondary school system to ensure that every child succeeds.  One such mechanism is the introduction of the Caribbean vocational qualifications.

“The focus right now is on the CVQ’S which we launched last September.  Our hope is that having looked at the success rate or levels of this pilot programme, it will be launched at all of our secondary schools within short time.”

The Government of Dominica in recent times has expended a significant amount of resources to ensure that secondary schools are equipped and well furnished with the tools necessary for effective learning.