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Gov't plans to build 60 infant schools islandwide

BY CANDIESE LEVERIDGE Online reporter leveridgec@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 | 4:32 PM    

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EDUCATION Minister Ronald Thwaites says that government has plans to construct 60 new infant schools islandwide. Thwaites, who was speaking at today's Jamaica House press briefing did not give details on a start-up date. However, he said that the decision came out of Government's emphasis on Early Childhood Education.

"I really want the nation to focus on early childhood education, on getting it right the first time," he said, describing the move as the "JEEP rolling out in education".

Thwaites said the new schools will be placed in areas where there is need for infant schools or where there is an infant school that is "in a decrepit state" and needs to be rebuilt.

According to Thwaites there are over 200 primary schools that have the space for the attachment of a pre-primary or infant department and there is a need to end the spatial division between the pre primary institution and the first three grades of primary school. "As a result, the Early Childhood sector has been redefined and will now range from the Pre-Primary sector to the end of grade three".

He added that advanced training will be provided for more than 500 teachers with the recruitment of 200 new teachers and teacher aids for the coming school year.

"We must use that which we have to greater benefit, rather than building new edifices, we also have 1000 plus teachers who are attached to many schools but are not fully engaged because the numbers have declined. We want to offer retraining and insertion of those teachers, principally in the early childhood sector but I must also add in assisting us with the deficit in literacy, numeracy and special education," said Thwaites.

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