Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 07, 2017 (SKNIS): The official opening on Tuesday (March 07) of the $3 million Victoria Road Preschool was an event that was welcomed by parents, teachers and government officials, as efforts to advance the early childhood education system, and build a strong human resource pool in St. Kitts and Nevis continues.
The 7,000 square foot facility features four classrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen with a pantry, a laundry, and a storeroom on the ground floor, while the upper level comprises an office for the director, staff room for teachers, a sick bay, bathrooms and storeroom. Director of the Public Works Department, Cromwell Williams, said an additional 3,800 square foot of space is also available in a basement.
In giving remarks at the opening ceremony, Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, referred to St. Kitts and Nevis’ reputation of having a model early childhood education and development system in the Caribbean region, as recognized by neighbouring governments and international institutions such as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). He said this trend must continue as officials have made investment in the human resource a priority.
“Whatever we are doing in the public sector, must at the end of the day, help advance St. Kitts and Nevis further in all things important for the socioeconomic development and advancement of our country,” Dr. Harris stated.
This includes the government’s philosophy to ensure that education remains free of charge for students enrolled in public schools. The traditional thinking years ago suggested that focus be placed on primary and secondary schools, but Prime Minister Harris said such philosophy must extend to the start of formal education – early childhood development – and as such saluted the private pioneers of the past who engaged in this activity.
“There should be no difference in the quality of experiences that is being offered in private or in public sector in the delivery of early childhood education,” Dr. Harris said. “That is why the [Early Childhood] Unit established standards for all; standards in relation to spacing, to the curriculum, to the environment and the spatial requirements that were being proffered.”
The prime minister, who served as a minister of education from 2000 to 2004, said research has shown that toddlers who receive early childhood education develop into more productive citizens, lead more responsible family lives, and are less likely to engage in antisocial activities, when compared to those who did not receive the early intervention.
“And that is why we have to continue our investment in this regard,” Prime Minister Harris noted. “The early childhood programme, then, is part of an imperative for developing a progressive nation in which we give good care and attention to the development of our young people, starting at the very first instance in enhancing their readiness to learning and to educational experiences.”
The Victoria Road Preschool has a population of 80 enrolled students and 15 staff members. A number of parents expressed pleasure with the new facility and the child friendly learning it promotes. President of the preschool’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Dr. Vance Gilbert, thanked all involved for bringing the project, which began in 2014 with the demolition of the original structure, to completion. He said that parents were confident that the facility will once again become a beacon that proclaims the future is being laid with a solid foundation.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Honourable Shawn Richards, thanked the parents and the public for their patience while the facility was under construction and assured that the teachers, staff and the Ministry of Education, as a whole, were committed to offering the very best education to the children.