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FFP, Early Childhood Commission & HEART to provide scholarships to teachers

PROComm | 2012-10-05 00:00:00

Food for the Poor (FFP) Jamaica, Early Childhood Commission and HEART Trust / NTA today celebrated World Teachers’ Day with the signing of a partnership agreement at the Oxford Road Office of HEART Trust / NTA, for the training of 500 early childhood education teachers, over five years. The Memorandum of Understanding which becomes effective this academic year will ensure that scholarships are provided to practitioners in the early childhood sector, who lack the required qualifications, owing to financial constraints in accessing and or completing the required Certification Programmes.

 Signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding were: Rev. Hon. Ronald Thwaites, Education Minister; Andrew Mahfood, Chairman, FFP Jamaica; Michelle Campbell, Acting Executive Director, Early Childhood Commission and Dr. Carolyn Hayle, Executive Director, HEART Trust/ NTA.

 FFP which is financing the project will disburse 50 scholarships every September and January for the next five years. Each scholarship will have a value of J$65,000 and will give scholarship recipients the opportunity to pursue National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQJ) Certification for Early Childhood Development Level 2. The scholarship will cover the cost of tuition, travelling and meal allowances for each recipient.

 All the partner organizations are responsible for screening the applicants. HEART Trust / NTA will administer the programme and train the scholarship recipients. The awardees are to be placed in identified HEART Trust/NTA approved Centres and benefit from 48 weeks (or 12 months) of training. The Early Childhood Commission which is the regulating and coordinating agency for the early childhood development sector will be the advisory and monitoring body for the initiative. The partner organizations will engage in the monitoring of the programme and will have monthly consultations, as part of the monitoring mechanism.

 A key requirement for involvement in the scholarship programme is that each applicant must submit a character reference from either a Pastor or Justice Of The Peace recommending him / her for the scholarship award.

 In delivering Remarks at today’s event, the FFP Jamaica Chairman, announced that his charity will be supporting the scholarship programme to the tune of J$32.5 million.  Mr. Mahfood said the training of the 500 teachers is part of the charity’s celebration of Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary, through the ‘FFP Jamaica 50 Campaign’. “In demonstrating our commitment to assisting with the development of the island’s early childhood sector, we are building and or upgrading 50 basic schools in 50 months in commemoration of Jamaica’s Golden Jubilee,” explained Mr. Mahfood. “The Campaign is also enhancing the quality of knowledge, qualification and expertise of teachers in early childhood institutions.”

 He expressed FFP’s commitment to improving the infrastructure and human resources in early childhood institutions. “We want our nation to have the best quality of teachers so we will be supporting those teachers who do not have the means to access advanced training. We will also be assisting those teachers who had been pursuing early childhood education programmes, but have had to discontinue their studies due to financial constraints,” the FFP Jamaica Chairman stated.

 The ECC and HEART Trust / NTA have also pledged their commitment to the scholarship programme. Dr. Carolyn Hayle told participants in today’s Signing Ceremony that her organization “is very pleased to be partnering with the Food For The Poor and the Early Childhood Commission to support the training and certification of Early Childhood Practitioners at the Level 2 National Vocational Qualification standard.”

 Pointing out that a good early childhood education is essential for the nation’s development, Dr. Hayle noted that the advanced training of early childhood practitioners “will ensure that going forward, we will have a sustainable workforce to drive the economy.”

 The HEART Trust / NTA Executive Director indicated that the partnership is a historic initiative for the early childhood sector.  “Through the partnership with the Food For The Poor, for the first time we will be able to provide financial assistance directly to the Early Childhood Practitioners who need help in off-setting transportation and related costs,” Dr. Hayle pointed out. “This collaboration will therefore support those who are most in need and ensure that they are able to successfully complete their studies.”

 Commending the joint agreement, Mrs. Michelle Campbell reiterated that the training programme will prepare practitioners with the skills sets that support parents, contribute to the functioning of an efficient work environment and offer stellar customer service to children and adults alike.  Expressing concern that currently, there is a training deficit in the early childhood sector, Mrs. Campbell outlined that the majority of practitioners in the sector have low levels of qualification.

 The Acting Executive Director of the ECC believes the scholarship programme is of great importance in enhancing the development of the practitioners and the nation’s children: “This partnership with FFP, HEART Trust/NTA and the ECC to support the training of 500 practitioners at Level 2 will enhance the manpower of the sector and produce professionals that are equipped to demonstrate the developmentally appropriate practices that foster the physical, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual development of children typical and atypical from birth to age six.”

 Keynote Speaker, Rev. the Hon. Ronnie Thwaites, welcomed the scholarship programme, deeming it “the largest possibility of introducing training into the early childhood sector,” and predicted that it will yield big dividends for the recipients, their young charges and the education sector. Indicating that more than a quarter of Jamaica’s children are experiencing some learning/ educational deficiencies, Minister Thwaites explained that the best place to recognise and start to address these deficiencies is at the early childhood level.  He said the scholarship programme would put the teachers in a better position to address educational deficiencies in pre-primary children.

 Noting that the early childhood sector receives only 4% of the education budget on an annual basis, Minister Thwaites cautioned that the nation needs to stop marginalizing the practitioners in that sector.

 Commending Food For The Poor for the donation of “gift and grace and hope to our Jamaican children”, the Education Minister said the initiative would sensitise more early childhood education practitioners to the needs of their communities and inspire them to participate in outreach activities to residents.

 Among the attendees at today’s Signing Ceremony were: Dr. Wayne Wesley, Chief Technical Director, HEART Trust / NTA; Elizabeth Terry, Director, Special Projects, HEART Trust / NTA; Jacqueline Johnson, Executive Director, FFP; Ron Burgess, Senior Director, Recipient Services, FFP; Susan Moore, Director, Recipient Services, FFP; Jean Lowrie-Chin, Board Member, FFP; Richard Williams, Manager, Early Childhood Development Services, ECC and La Donna Manning, Communications Manager, ECC.

Posted By :Victoria Cann

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