Letters to the Editor

Have a Happy Children's Day!

Friday, May 19, 2017

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Dear Editor,Every year, in the month of May, people all over the world celebrate our children in a special way, highlighting their rights as individuals and the actions necessary to ensure that they are being protected from abuse. Additionally, in Jamaica, we have identified one day in the month as National Children's Day, and that is being observed today, May 19.

Friday was specifically chosen so that schools can celebrate children since there are children who do not have loving, caring and supportive environments whether in the community or in the home. How sad it is that we cannot be assured that all families and communities will celebrate our children?

We must prepare our children to play that pivotal role in development. We must start at the age when they learn about our national symbols and to respect them, when they learn the basics of literacy and numeracy, when they learn the importance of being courteous even as they develop their self-esteem.

If we invest in the early childhood development of our children we give them the tools to learn and grow, and we give them skills for life. As we build a society that demonstrates appropriate care and respect for children, we will develop children better capable of coping in a society that is yet to provide for them in the way to which they are entitled.

Yet even as we publicly express our love for our children and seek to guide them to fulfil their aspirations, we recognise that there are yet many areas of concern to be addressed.

We have committed to supporting our children at the early childhood level as they enter the formal education system. Organisations such as the Early Childhood Commission, Child Development Agency, Office of the Children's Advocate, and Office of the Children's Registry have been tasked to develop programmes that address this most vulnerable group in the population.

In fact, the Government is placing increasing emphasis on early childhood development. To this end we are committed to a multi-pronged transformation programme aimed at achieving full development for all Jamaican children from birth to eight years.

The first stage of this reform process covers the legal and regulatory framework that governs the sector. We believe that 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 a comprehensive legislative framework is provided to meet the needs of young children.

An oversight committee, headed by Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughn, has been established to oversee the development of a comprehensive strategy to revitalise the vision for our Jamaican children.

We also recognise that many of our children live in challenging financial situations and so have increased our financial commitment to households on the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education.

Our ministry's focus on children and young people therefore has a number of components, including:

• youth development and career advancement;

• differentiated instruction for effective teaching and learning;

• making more use of technology in education and administration;

• equitable education financing;

• safety, security and youth empowerment through uniformed groups in all schools.

So, as we wish all our children and young people a Happy Children's Day, you, your parents and guardians can be assured that the Government is putting in place all the necessary measures to protect you, your rights and your development.

Senator Ruel Reid,

Minister of Education, Youth and Information

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