Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, with responsibility for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Karl Samuda, says he is working to ensure that every child benefits from early-childhood education.
Speaking at the handover ceremony for a $14-million kitchen and canteen at the Middleton Primary School in St. Thomas on May 15, Mr. Samuda said some 100,000 children are entering primary school without exposure to offerings at the early-childhood level, and he will be taking action to stop the practice.
“I have given myself an undertaking to invite all the countries that have expressed an interest to assist us, to go one step further and help those students who are not attending pre-primary-level schools because of the inability of their parents to fund it, by underwriting the cost of sending those children to school,” the Minister said.
Imploring parents to start their children at the pre-primary level, the Minister said children who do not have the benefit of early-childhood education, for the most part, “have to play catch-up”.
“If you start at the basic school, you get a foundation that serves you when you go to the primary school. If you don’t get exposure at the basic school, it means that you will be forever playing catch-up, and the children who are exposed to basic education will be ahead of you,” the Minister argued.
Mr. Samuda said every child must have the opportunity to “maximise” his or her potential.
“A child’s potential depends on how early, or how intensively they start in the formal education system. There is no limit to what can be achieved, once that is done,” he said, adding that the Ministry, teachers and parents “have a responsibility to expose our infants to the discipline of education”.
The kitchen/canteen was constructed with funding from the Japanese government, through their Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Initiative, which provides grants for community development projects across various sectors. Support was also provided by the Government.