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‘Early Childhood Development for nation building in Jamaica: Retrospective and Prospective’

The Dudley Grant Memorial Trust (DGMT) staged a Conference on Early Childhood Development on March 25 and 26, 2013 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. Given the heightened recognition in the twenty first century of the value of ECCD and the stated emphasis of the Government of Jamaica in making this a priority of its Education Agenda, this Conference was an opportunity to revisit, with well-known scholars, the origins of ECCD in Jamaica, to critically examine aspects of its present state and to look carefully at the prospects for the future of this dynamic and important area of education. The presentations formed the basis for an interactive discussion and facilitated a robust exchange of views between panel members and the invited audience.
The objectives of the Conference were:
• To build awareness of the work done to initiate and support early childhood development in Jamaica over the past fifty years;
• To explore contemporary challenges and propose solutions based on the lessons learnt.
There were a total of seventy-four (74) participants on Monday, March 25th, 2013 and one hundred and eighty (180) in attendance on Tuesday, March 26th, 2013. These included stakeholders from across the island – ECD teachers, principals, lecturers and developmental officers – and representatives of both private and public sectors.
Major outcomes:
It was noted that most of the recommendations coming from the conference reflect the need for a focus on early childhood EDUCATION. While recognizing the validity of the use of the term Early Childhood Development to capture the concept of the integration of health, education, care and safety in these early years, the Conference presentations highlighted the need for a special emphasis on education at this time in Jamaica.