Barbados is lagging behind other Caribbean states in terms of the achievement of universal early childhood education.
This acknowledgement from the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Senator Harry Husbands, in the Upper Chamber today while introducing a resolution in support of Government’s plans to construct a nursery at the site of the old St John the Baptist Boys’ School at Durant’s, St James.
Husbands told the Senate that the planned acquisition of land and construction of a nursery school at Durant’s, as well as five other nursery schools, would assist the Government in fulfilling its major aim of universal early childhood education.
“Some of our sister territories in the region have already realised that dream of universal early childhood education,” he noted, adding that while “Barbados has excelled in other areas, this remains the one major area it is working assiduously to put in place”.
Stressing the critical importance of pre-school education to a child’s development, the Government senator said: “It is widely established in educational circles that the earlier one can hold young minds in a formal educational environment, especially children of lower socio-economic standing, the better it is for them in the long run.
“So nursery education can be seen as providing the absolute basis, not just for formal education, but the proper development of the society in general.”
The former educator told the Senate that the Ministry of Education sees the establishment of nursery schools as its way of ensuring that children can be children.
“There is a tendency nowadays where children are growing up extremely quickly,” he said, adding, “In the majority of cases it is not of their own doing.
“Adults have placed them in a position where they have to grow up extremely quickly. The nursery school provides that opportunity for children to play in a structured environment and spend part of their childhood being children,” Husbands said.
He noted, “There are many parts of the world where very young children are forced to enter the world of work. Fortunately, we are not in that position,” the Government senator said.
Husbands however warned parents that the facilities the Government was providing were not to be taken as a way of escaping their responsibility to the children.
“These are supplementary to the family and the family whatever form that family takes, if it is one parent family, it is a family and the parents have a responsibility to be the prime shapers of the children, allowing them to be children,” the education official said.
He lauded the Maria Holder Memorial Trust for its contribution to the construction of the first pre-school at Sharon School, which currently caters to the needs of 120 children.
He also disclosed that the Trust has volunteered to train the teachers in early childhood education, noting that the first batch had already been trained, with the second cohort about to be trained.
Husbands also revealed that the Maria Holder Trust had also volunteered to offer a postgraduate certificate programme in early childhood education. (NC)