Early childhood education is on the trajectory to be transformed with the commissioning of the Early Childhood Centre of Excellence at the University of Guyana, Turkeyen Campus.
The Centre of Excellence is funded by the Guyana Government and the Caribbean Development Bank, through Basic Needs Trust Fund Guyana. It creates a conducive environment for young learners to explore, grow and develop.
Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand in her remarks, noted that Guyana has the highest nursery enrolment rate in the Commonwealth, as such, the investment is fitting since Guyana and the Caribbean can learn from practices which will be implemented at the institution.
She stated that the important level of education is at the early childhood age and urged people to not view the Early Childhood Centre of Excellence as just another nursery school.
“This as a research unit can make all the difference in education in Guyana…I didn’t say early childhood education, it can make all the difference in education across all sectors primary, secondary and nursery.”
UNICEF Representative, Mr Nicholas Pron expressed that UNICEF believes that the centre will not only contribute to the best start to life, it will also facilitate and foster a holistic, inclusive approach to improving early childhood development, as well as enhancing the knowledge and competencies of early childhood development practitioners, researchers, parents and other caregivers.
Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Paloma Mohamed said the project was long in the making and help the university to find solutions to the challenges in the way in which children are socialized and raised.
Director of the Centre, Dr Lidon Lashley, said that the facility currently caters to 102 young learners, 26 of whom require additional education needs. He noted that each child’s need is catered to.
“And we do so in an atmosphere that embraces the Ministry of Education’s Early Childhood Curriculum but also extended it with practices and research that is done on the upper level.”
Representing the Ministry of Finance, Ms Karen Roopchand stated that it was designed as a premier centre to provide a developmentally appropriate learning environment for young children in the surrounding communities and give early childhood education students a venue to gain practical experience in the care and education of children.
The $161 million facility is equipped with all the amenities needed by learners and early childhood practitioners and caregivers. The building was also designed to accommodate differently-abled learners.