The Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training signed contracts with directors of pre-school institutions that will allow 1,500 more children between the ages of 3-5 to have access to pre-primary education.
In 2018, the Early Childhood Education Section in the Department of Education officially launched the Government’s Private Pre-School Partnership (PPP) an initiative that offers vouchers of up to $2,000 per child for enrollment of children in approved, private pre-primary schools.
To date, 118 private pre-school operators throughout the Bahamas are engaged in the programme. This year the partnership is expected to increase by 10. Since the inception 6, 200 vouchers have been distributed.
The signing took place in the conference room of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Thursday, December 1, 2022. Participants included Lorraine Armbrister, Permanent Secretary; Dominique McCartney-Russell, Acting Director of Education (ADE); ADE Leja Burrows; members of the Pre-School and Daycare Council, operators of pre-schools, representatives of the Early Childhood Section and senior education executives.
The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training, said the Government committed to the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goal 4.2 because all children between ages of 3-5 should have universal access to pre-primary school by 2030.
With 7 years to achieve the objective Minister Hanna-Martin said, “As a government which is committed to public education we have to do some things – construct classrooms, train teachers — do all we can to create this access. This is so urgent and so important that it can’t wait for that. We have to move now. Since 2018 this particular paradigm was struck. It allows the objective to be advanced in a way in which we satisfy our commitment and for our children.”
She underscored that the partnership is not just a commercial relationship between the government and the private sector.
“Our role is quality assurance but it comes with training, certification, inspections and accountability for our children. We also want to raise awareness with parents. We urge you to seek to engage and embrace parents in this exercise.
“Your role is critical. This is in pursuance of a national commitment not just to the individual child, but to the national collective of where we want to see ourselves in the near future in this country. We expect qualitative, committed engagement in the growth, development and nurturing of these young people who we are partnering with you in.
“This also means access for any children who normally would not have access because the parents don’t have it. These circumstances automatically put children and families behind the “eighth ball” and that is why universal access is so important because it creates equity and allows talented children who come from challenging circumstances to do great things.”
Moreover, Minister Hanna-Martin said, “This paradigm is an effort to close the gap as much as we can but there is still much ground to be recovered. I am happy that we have another 1,500 children who will be able to access pre-primary [education] in the most challenging times in education post pandemic,” she said.
She acknowledged ADE Burrows and the team in the Early Learning Childhood Section and the Office of the Attorney General.
ADE McCartney-Russell said the partnership is significant as the Ministry seeks to accommodate students so that government operated centers are not overcrowded.
“This partnership means more children will transition to grade one with a stronger foundation for learning. They will be more prepared to advance to the next level in education.
“Your participation in this national effort affords us the opportunity to provide education for more children. Thank you for adhering to the rigorous standards overseen by Mrs. Agatha Archer and her team at the Pre-School and Daycare Council. Your adherence provides assurance to our parents and to us that our children’s education is in good hands,” said ADE McCartney-Russell.