Photo: The acting chief education officer in St. Kitts, Dr. Tricia Esdaille
Early Learners Programme provides support for both students, teachers
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Dr. Tricia Esdaille, acting chief education officer in the Ministry of Education, highlighted the benefits of the Early Learners Programme (ELP) and Child Friendly Schools (CFS) framework in St. Kitts and Nevis on the government’s weekly radio/television programme “Working for You” July 5.
Esdaille noted that the ELP is a part of a regional framework being tested in 10 schools in the federation from kindergarten to grade 3 (K-3). She mentioned that the programme will be introduced to additional schools in the coming year. Esdaille explained that it is important for the programme to start in grades K-3 because “those are the grades in which children acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills, which are the foundation for future success.”
“Early intervention is key,” Esdaille said, as she expressed that the programme is designed to expose primary issues with learning, developmental issues or challenges that can be rectified and addressed at an early age. “A large part of what the Early Learners Programme does is actually focus on the teacher,” she said, as she noted that there are ELP coordinators in the Ministry of Education who work with teachers at various schools “with the idea that once the teacher improves in skills and knowledge, it will trickle down to the student.”
She further explained that “Child Friendly Schools (CFS) is an initiative and a framework that is actually worldwide.” She noted that the initiative is supported by the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the local government. She also mentioned that this initiative is taking the focus away from the teachers and putting it on the students.
“Education in the 21st century states that students learn best when instruction is student-led not teacher-led,” she said, while noting that the outcome of CFS is to seek out and implement the conditions in which children learn best. She also noted that CFS takes a democratic approach to learning and tries to ensure that students have the opportunity to develop important life skills such as hard work, critical thinking and proper communication.
CFS ensures that children have an environment that is physically safe, emotionally secure and psychologically enabling.