Educators call for government investment in early childhood education

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jan 10, CMC – Governments in the Eastern Caribbean have been called upon to invest more in the training of early childhood educators.

Addressing the opening of the annual meeting of the Eastern Caribbean Joint Board of Teacher Education (ECJBTE), Chairman Dr Babalola Okunkola said such investment will reduce the number of untrained teachers in the sub-region.

He told the two-day conference that between 2011 and 2015, 70.39 per cent of candidates graduated from associate degree education programmes.

“You see enrolment from 1128 and those that graduated, about 794 just about 800.  So it means that there are some students who did not complete or who did not graduate as expected.

“But those that started and did not complete, they are somewhere and many of them are still in schools teaching.  So that is to us a problem, and we think that we must rise up to solve the problem.  So I’m saying that there should be a policy by government as to what to do with those that fail or those that refuse to enrol at all when they are teaching in the schools,” Dr Ogunkola said.

He said that the highest level of enrolment was in primary education programmes with 625 candidates, while Technical and Vocational programmes saw the least number of candidates with only 79 registered.

“This implies that there are much more primary school teachers enrolling for an associate degree in in education than what we have in early childhood education or what we have in technical and vocational education.

“Therefore there is urgent need to have more trained teachers in early childhood education, in TVET, and other secondary education programme,” he said.

According to him the lowest number of graduates was recorded among candidates in early childhood education courses, at 55.56 per cent, while the majority of graduates were from secondary education programmes, which stood at 85.44 per cent.

He told regional educators that students from only four out of the seven member countries of the ECJBTE are currently pursuing early childhood education programmes.

“Therefore I call on all our governments across the Eastern Caribbean to invest more on the training of early childhood education teachers. Let us remember that early childhood education is the foundation upon which other levels of education is built,” Dr Ogunkola said.

The January 10-11 talks will address other issues including the functions and structure of the ECJBT, issues relating to the graduate diploma in Education, and meeting the learning needs of students.

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