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ECC teachers to be assigned to multiple schools

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, April 28, 2014    

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CULLODEN, Westmoreland — Chief Education Officer Dr Grace McLean says plans are in place for teachers to be assigned to more than one school in a bid to guarantee that every early childhood student is taught by trained early childhood teachers.

"As we speak we are currently crunching the numbers, looking back at the Budget with a view to see how many more teachers we will be able to engage in clusters, so that you can serve basic schools, say two days per week for this one, and another two days for this one and one day for another," Dr McLean argued.

"And so what we are trying do is ensure that all of our children will get some form of access to trained teachers during their time at

that level."

She noted that "this is a practice that other countries have used and it has worked".

McLean was giving the keynote address at the Early Childhood Commission's (ECC) luncheon and awards ceremony at Sandals Whitehouse Resort in Westmoreland, on Friday. The ceremony was the first of 14 parish celebrations planned for the ECC's 10th anniversary of existence.

She noted that under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) last year, the ministry provided up to 200 volunteers who are trained early childhood teachers. This, she said, increased the total number of trained teachers in the system to over 900.

But Dr McLean lamented that the addition of the volunteers was only a drop in the bucket.

"This is not a significant dent in this critical area, but the plans, ladies and gentlemen, moving forward will be to ensure that all early childhood students have access to a trained teacher at some point," Dr McLean stated.

In the meantime, Dr McLean, reporting on the conversion of basic schools into infant departments of primary schools, stated that the Ministry of Education created 68 infant departments and took over two additional infant schools last year. She further revealed that the ministry was seeking to convert another 100 this year.

"Over this financial year — or the school year — that is coming up, we have a projected target of another 100 that we would like to convert," she said.

McLean also hailed the Sandals Foundation for its partnership with the Ministry of Education in several projects undertaken in the early childhood education sector over the years.

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