Ministry to merge nursery, lower primary levels

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
July 22, 2000

The Ministry of Education will merge the nursery and levels one (Prep A) and two (Prep B) education programmes, under an early childhood education programme.

Current Assistant Chief Education Officer with responsibility for nursery education Romeo McAdam will administer this programme, expected to come into effect in September.

The announcement was made at a press conference Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Ed Caesar, held at the GTV 11 Studios at Homestretch Avenue yesterday. Caesar was flanked by McAdam, Deputy Chief Education Officer Genevieve Whyte-Nedd and Director of the Municipal Day Care Services Sandra Hooper.

The press conference was held following the just-concluded third conference of Caribbean educators on early childhood education held in Ocho Rios, Jamaica earlier this month. Guyana is expected to host next year's conference. The implementation of the early childhood education programme is in keeping with an agreement signed by CARICOM ministers of education in May, 1997. Commenting on the early childhood programme, McAdam said that the merger would enable children to better deal with the transition from nursery to primary. He noted, too, that in early childhood many children have to face two transition periods from birth to six years--from day care to the nursery school and then from nursery to primary. McAdam said that UNICEF had committed itself to assisting with the programme.

Teacher training, too, at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) will no longer focus on nursery education alone but on early childhood education to include the two years at the nursery level and the first two years at primary school. This will enable the teachers to work at all levels.

Plans were also in train to include caregivers in the training programme at the CPCE but McAdam said this was still in the early stages of negotiations mainly because caregivers were in the private sector and not in the public sectors as was the case in most schools in the country.

In relation to legislation covering early childhood education, McAdam said that the Education Ministry had gone a long way in producing a draft covering standards, rules and regulations. He pointed out, however, that the document was not a "Ministry of Education thing or day care thing" but one which had been drafted after consultations with stakeholders and other interested parties. It was most important, he said that the legislation was properly piloted through parliament. Caesar noted that if the sector was to be developed there would be need for adequate monitoring to ensure the relevance of the programme and to ensure that managers of day care centres worked within the stipulated framework as against seeking only monetary gains.

Based on the 1997 Early Childhood Plan of Action, Caesar said, more focus was being placed on research. This will enable studies on tracing (tracer studies) a child's development from the day care through nursery and primary.

Pointing out that networking was another aspect, Caesar said that the ministry was in the process of establishing a website which would allow parents to get online and access the necessary information. Also, in order to improve communication and networking, the ministry and the municipal day care services were working on the establishment of a national parent body which would include the day care, schools and non-governmental organisations as well as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Human Services.

Hooper said that the municipal day care service, which operates six centres, had become more or less a regulatory and advisory body for other day care services operating in the city. At present the municipality was developing a number of guidelines with which day care centres in the city would be expected to operate. There are some 53 day care centres, home-care groups and play groups in the city.

She noted, too, that the current Association of Infant Care Givers was functioning with assistance from UNICEF but it was not registered as a society. Caesar has advised that the association be registered as early as possible to ensure the viability of its programmes, funding and to hold sway as well. Whyte-Nedd gave a background to the current level of training for nursery educators and infant field officers who are now serving at supervisory levels in the nursery education programme.

Follow the goings-on in Guyana
in Guyana Today