The Bahamas is seeking to develop its early childhood education system, and Barbados has extended a helping hand to its Caribbean Community neighbour.
After discussing the matter at an Organization of American States summit in Washington DC earlier this year, Minister of Education Ronald Jones proudly welcomed his Bahamian counterpart Jeffrey Lloyd to his Constitution Road office yesterday where he presented him with copies of the Ministry of Education’s guidelines on early childhood education.
Jones also offered an assurance that “we have personnel who are willing to come to the Bahamas to give you any assistance you need on building up that sector of your education system”.
The two officials had earlier toured a number of Government-owned nursery schools here.
Lloyd, who took office this year, said early childhood education was his country’s main source of concern.
“Presently we are in somewhat of an undeveloped position in our ability to provide education in the public sector for our three year olds in terms of the number of trained teachers, as well as our physical capacity,” he explained.
He also said while the sector was mostly private sector driven, “we understand there is a need for the state to provide this as well, and so we are on an aggressive pathway of capacity building for our young people who are interested in coming into the teaching profession both as teachers and teaching aides.”
With Bahamian parents beginning to recognize the value of preschool education, Lloyd said:
“Right now we only have about 1,500 children in the preschool system, which is only 20 per cent of what it should be in both private and public schools, so we are working hard to meet that demand.”
In underscoring the needs of the sector, the minister of education said ideally he wanted the Bahamas to be in the same position as Barbados, where there was one teacher to 15 students.
“This is important because children at this age need more one-on-one attention if Government is to meet its educational targets.”