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Check status of schools before registering children, ECC urges

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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OFFICIALS of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) are imploring parents to check the status of institutions before registering their children in order to ensure their safety.

Speaking at the International Safeguarding Children Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre last week Thursday, ECC's Community Relations Manager Tanisha Miller said: “Our main focus at the Early Childhood Commission is ensuring that schools are being certified, and these schools are supposed to be at a particular standard. For those schools to be at the standard, they would have to meet all 12 standards.”

The 12 standards to which she referred are: Appropriate staffing, developmental or educational programmes, positive interactions and relationships with children, safe physical environment, indoor and outdoor equipment and furnishing, health, nutrition, safety, child rights, interaction with parents, administration, and finance.

Miller told those attending the conference that the main standard is safety.

“Persons want to know that when they leave their child at an institution, they will go back and the child is okay, and that the child is taken care of. We're on a drive to certify schools. We have only reached 122 schools that have been certified, out of the 2,665.”

“That is why we implore parents that when you're taking your child to a school to register them, please to find out the status of the school. Certification for the schools is not hard, it is just to ensure that there are proper things in place for the child's comfort.

“We want to know that there is a fence around the school so the child cannot run from the classroom to the street. We want to ensure that there are no stray animals on the compound. We had a case where a goat went on to the compound and the goat buck the child and the child was blind,” she said.

According to Miller, the commission is trying to avoid incidents like the one involving the goat.

“That is why we stress our standards. One of our other main standards is nutrition. We want to ensure that children are not just getting cheese trix and 'bag juice' at school. So we have come up with a nutrition plan and that would have been presented to a school,” she continued.

Miller spoke of the many benefits to schools when they are registered and on the commission's radar. The ECC provides the schools with equipment needed to make the educational environment more comfortable and accommodating, she explained.

“We give them fans because we want to know that our children are comfortable and they're cool, so we provide them with a cooling system. Some of the classrooms you go into, they're very dark. So we would have gone as far as buying the bulbs to put in the classroom. We don't want a child to go into the classroom and they can see and then when they go back home, they're blind. So those are some of the things we are trying to eliminate when we present our 12 standards,” she explained.

The conference, hosted by One Step Forward Consultancy, saw individuals from the United States, Cayman Islands and the United Kingdom in attendance. The event is in its fourth year and is the company's main event for Child Month.

— Falon Folkes

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