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Sep 28, 2005

Education Ministry focuses on preschool development

Story PictureOnce a novelty for the well-to-do, preschools are now a regular feature of Belize’s educational system. And this morning government made clear its intention to enhance and expand the programme that it believes has produced positive results. News Five’s Jacqueline Woods reports.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
There are over one hundred preschools operating in Belize and the evidence suggests that those children who attend benefit greatly.

Maude Hyde, Chief Education Officer
“The preschool years are important, particularly for the four years olds, they need to begin to be ready to enter the formal system, they need to be able to develop the right attitude, to be able to share with each other, so it’s a necessary preparation, a readiness preparation for them.”

In the past two years the Ministry of Education has made specific policy decisions to help advance early childhood education and development. For example, the government has agreed to meet the salaries of preschool teachers and to encourage existing primary schools to establish preschools as part of their institutional framework.

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education
“The opportunity for these children to develop their own life skills at this early age, for them to develop the right values, the right attitudes towards learning I think is very, very critical. And so we are very, very committed at the Ministry of Education to early childhood education and development.”

Today that commitment was demonstrated when Minister of Education Francis Fonseca officially opened Stepping Stones Preschool; a facility that he says will serve as a model of excellence in early childhood education.

The government-aided institution, the first for children living in Belama Phase Two, is the result of recommendations made at the National Education Summit held in May 2004.

Maud Hyde
“Well this one is very special because it’s attached to the Preschool Unit and that is really the ministry’s centre for early childhood development and education. Therefore, working so closely with the unit, we can have the input of the specialist from the unit, as well as we can use the preschool to demonstrate in the training of other preschool providers, teachers, where we want preschool education to go.”

Presently there are fourteen children enrolled at Stepping Stones Preschool. Jacqueline Woods for News Five.

Registration at Stepping Stones costs twenty-five dollars and there is a monthly fee of twenty dollars. The preschool is located on Chetumal Street in the Freetown constituency.

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