Assistant Education Officer for Early Childhood Education (ECD), Veda George, is lamenting that there are too many challenges affecting Early Childhood Development in Dominica.
According to George, the period from birth to five years is critical in any individual’s life as this is the time that one’s character is formed and the foundation for life is laid.
However, she said, children are faced with numerous hurdles such as too much junk food, television, violence, sexual acts and to top it off, negligent parents.
She said such factors negatively impact children’s development in life.
“It is a period of very rapid development in any individual’s life,” George stated at an Early Childhood Development (ECD) National Symposium at the Arawak House of Culture on Monday. “Hence it is often said we can either make or break an individual within these early years.”
She said that parents and caregivers do not take time to understand the dynamics of ECD, and the majority of them are not interested which is evident in low attendance reports by pre-schools.
She also stated that parents think that their only responsibility is custodial care.
“Early Childhood is more than just custodial care,” she argued. “With parents main focus on custodial care, many of our children are forced to start pre-school before they really should.”
The end result, she explained, is these students do not want to sit and pay attention when they really should because they never got the “time to run around.”
“We had them sitting still and paying attention for too long when they should have been running around,” she pointed out.
She noted that parents do not take time to get to know what ECD is all about, which in turn they place additional pressure on the pre-school teachers, “almost wanting them to teach university work at our pre-schools.”
She stated that children get “brain tired” after a certain point because of the early “drills” of one activity book after the other, rather than having the children being actively engaged in constructive knowledge.
George also made a special appeal to parents and working individuals who have not paid their pre-school fees to pay up.
“I want to call on parents to pay their outstanding fees. I also want to go further and make a special appeal to those of you who are now working and whose debts are still unpaid to pay on behalf of your parents,” she said.
There are 72 pre-schools in Dominica, 12 of which are community preschools housed in the primary schools.