Pre-school practitioners further their studies

Thirty-two pre-school practitioners from 11 pre-schools and day-care programmes are undergoing special training for their field.

The Ministry of Education and the Education Department together with the Cayman Islands Early Childhood Association have embarked on a training programme for pre-school practitioners.

The training is a National Council of Technical and Vocational Education and Training certification.

‘There has been much discussion in regard to the need for professional development of the people who work with our under-five population. The need for effective training for our early childhood practitioners cannot be overstated,’ said Mrs. Marjorie Beckles, Education Officer for pre-schools and coordinator of the course. She is assisted by Mrs. Mary Graham, Assistant Coordinator.

Mrs. Beckles explained that presently, more than half of the pre-school and daycare practitioners do not possess any academic qualifications beyond high school and because of work hours, they have not been able to pursue further studies.

‘Qualified childcare providers are in great demand and employment opportunities in this field will continue to grow over the next decade.’

She explained that a well trained and qualified workforce in childcare lowers the turnover of staff, enhances the children’s education and social experience, provides an enriching and safe environment for the care of children and aids in staff morale and professionalism.

Building bonds

‘Pre-schoolers form close relationships with their teachers and care givers, and these relationships are important to their emotional and social growth.

‘The disappearance of a beloved teacher shakes children’s trust in adults, and at the same time, it deprives pre-school programmes of an irreplaceable store of knowledge. High staff turnover also disrupts the staff relationships with parents and interrupts planning and curriculum development,’ said Mrs. Beckles.

It is the intention of the Ministry of Education and the education department together with the Cayman Islands Early Childhood Association to have this early childhood care and development programme formally established in the Cayman Islands, she said.

Thirty-two pre-school practitioners are presently pursuing the Level 1 course. These persons are employed at various pre-schools and day-care centres throughout the island. The training will be organised in Cayman Brac in 2006.

The training is held at the Savannah United Church Hall on Saturdays from 9am to 3pm and the Level 1 course should be completed at the end of six months. On Saturday the classes closed for Christmas and will resume on January 14, 2006.

The persons who have facilitated the course so far are Mrs. Corinne Glasgow, Ms Joy Frater, Mrs. Teldra Lewis and Mr. Walling Whittaker. Other facilitators will participate next term. There are five assessors who will assess and monitor the students in the various centres: Mr. Herbert Crawford, Mr. Ralph Beckles, Dr. Louise Malcolm, Dr. Desiree Charles, Ms Gloria Pollard.

Mrs. Beckles explained that once this course is completed a new group will pursue the Level 1 training while the first group will go on to Level 2. It is hoped that by the end of five years anyone working in the pre-schools, day-care centres or as a childminder will have had the NCTVET training.

‘The National Council of Technical and Vocational Education and Training have been leaders in this sector in the region. In fact, the standards have been adopted by the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF as a blue print for early childhood services in many countries across the world. In addition, CARICOM formally adopted the standards for regional use,’ said Mrs. Beckles.

She added that individuals pursuing and achieving this certification have worldwide recognition as the certificate speaks to the competence of the individual in demonstrating the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the occupational area.