National awards $4.5m to early childhood teachers

Sunday, December 02, 2018

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The National Baking Company Foundation has awarded six full scholarships and nine grants totalling $4.5 million to early childhood teachers under its Little Leaders Early Childhood programme.

The recipients, who were chosen through an application and interview process, were selected based on their ability to provide long-term value to the sector which, according to the foundation's director Christine Scott-Brown, is atop priority for National.

“Early childhood education is important to the foundation. We believe that by minimising the disparity at the early childhood level, we can have all children on a level playing field when it comes to their education. That's why we decided to do our part in assisting our teachers in any way that we can,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

The Foundation surprised the scholarship recipients at their respective schools recently.

Tamar Blair-Robinson of St Margaret Mary Basic and Prep School in Lionel Town, Clarendon was among them. Speaking through tears of joy, she explained that the award came at the right time as she sought to further her career and grow in the field.

“I was facing the real possibility of deregistration; I had just received a text from my school that I needed to pay,” she said.

“Words cannot express how happy I am today that I've received this scholarship. I can rest tonight knowing that I don't have that worry on my mind anymore. I have been in early childhood for a long time and I have level one and two certificates from HEART. I knew I had to get my degree.”

The scholarships will cover tuition, books and provide a monthly stipend. Its other awardees are: Sherika Campbell, Nicola Forbes, Shamelia Barclay Warren, Radika Richards and Sherika Smikle.

The grants, meanwhile, are $150,000 each and were awarded to Donyja Allen Thompson, Nichole Brown Henry, Sharmalee Johnson, Sherifah Morris, Olivia Jones, Dion Wallace, Rosalie Mitchell and Michelle Muckler.

“After interacting with the ECI (early childhood institution) teachers at the developmental workshop, we noted that many wanted to further their education and become officially qualified but they did not have the available resources. It was then that we made a decision to make this happen,” Scott-Brown disclosed.

The foundation initially planned to award three scholarships, but made a decision to increase the number as, during the interview process they observed that there was a need for more assistance. The Foundation also decided to gift the top three recipients with laptops in addition to their scholarships.

“The interview process highlighted the great need amongst the applicants to further their education. Because so many teachers scored high during the interviews, we made the decision to up our investment and offer three more scholarships and nine grants,” said Scott-Brown, adding that the move was important because the teachers are the ones responsible for educating our children.

Applications for the Little Leaders Early Childhood Teachers Scholarship opened on August 25, 2018 and received 75 applicants. The Little Leaders programme aims to minimise the learning disparity in early childhood education in Jamaica. Each year the programme supplies approximately 3,500 learning kits to all ECIs registered with the Early Childhood Commission. The kits include tools that focus on art, maths, science, language development, as well as fine and gross motor development. The foundation's teacher development workshops train teachers throughout the school year on how to effectively incorporate the tools from the learning kits into their lessons.

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