Dawn Cyrus and Bernadette John represented Grenada at a 2-day workshop in St Kitts, on discussions towards finalising and adopting a harmonised instrument for the routine monitoring of Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres in the region. The workshop concluded yesterday.
Ministries of Education through support from UNICEF, are undertaking an assessment of ECD Centres using the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS), to provide comparable data and baselines on the quality of ECD settings. To date, a number of centers across the OECS have been assessed. During the meeting, a regional perspective was presented on the quality of ECD settings based on findings from Quality Assessment Surveys undertaken over the last five years. This will provide a springboard for discussion leading to agreement on a regional instrument. Quality Assessment surveys will soon be conducted in the British Virgin Islands and Grenada.
The routine monitoring instrument will assist with achieving, improving and maintaining the quality of early childhood services for young children and their families. “The adoption of an instrument for routine monitoring will result in better monitoring of ECD services and an improvement in the quality of service through the adherence of established standards,” said a news release from the OECS Communications Unit.
This proposed secondary instrument for routine monitoring will be used to inform the primary document called ‘The OECS Monitoring Checklist for Early Childhood Centres,’ which was adopted by Member States in 2010.
The workshop was part of the OECS Commission’s Education Development Management Unit’s (EDMU) efforts to strengthen administrative data systems of schools, including ECD Centres, and to increase access to quality Early Childhood Services.
The EDMU embarked on the implementation of a new OECS Education Sector Strategy (OESS), of which “Improving the Quality of Early Childhood Education” is one of the imperatives. In view of this, the EDMU and representatives from Member States and from the UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Area Office have sought to define “quality” in that context. A working team comprising ECD Coordinators in the OECS has developed a draft instrument for monitoring with a focus on key aspects defining “quality.”
Empirical data suggests that early childhood interventions will eventually reduce the cost for addressing social problems, turning out competitive and marketable individuals with quality citizenship skills and good work ethics.
By Linda Straker