Speaking Notes for Senator The Hon. Ruel Reid Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information

 In Children, Education
Annual Strawberry Social
Delta Hotels – Toronto East
Sunday, June 4, 2017
‘Ode’ to Dr. Mavis Burke and Former PM Edward Seaga
Ladies and gentlemen, I am using this occasion among other things, to salute the pioneering work of Jamaican-born educator Dr. Mavis Burke founder of PACE Canada and former Prime Minister of Jamaica the Most Honourable Edward Seaga who made the request of Dr. Mavis Burke for the establishment of PACE Canada.
These two doyens of education and human development had the vision to brainchild and found PACE Canada.
Vision through Partnerships in Education
They saw a 100 years into the future. They recognized that education, particularly at the basic or pre-school stage needed to be situated on pillars of partnerships; irrespective of a country’s financial and or other resources. I repeat the point for emphasis: no single government has all the resources to fund all the costs pertinent to education.
Education stakeholders such as: students, parents, teachers, private sector, public sector, NGOs, Diaspora,  and others all have  critical and complimentary roles to play in the nurturing of education.
The Impact of PACE
That PACE has made significant qualitative and quantitative improvements in the lives of hundreds of our basic school children in Jamaica; cannot be denied.
I pointed out at the PACE Breakfast meeting in April at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston that  PACE has sponsored some 372 basic schools across our 14 parishes since its inception.
Here is the breakdown:
Clarendon 18
Hanover 22
Kingston 26
Manchester 27
Portland 23
St. Andrew 39
St. Ann 42
St. Catherine 32
St. Elizabeth 27
St. James 34
St. Mary 25
St. Thomas 12
Trelawny 12
Westmoreland 33
It bears repeating, that since 2014, PACE has partnered with the HEART Trust/NTA to provide early childhood teacher certification which has resulted in 86 teachers being certified up to Level 2 to date.
Seaga’s founding of HEART
Of course ladies and gentlemen it would be remiss of me not to mention that – The HEART Trust/NTA was established in 1982 by former Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Edward Seaga. In a bid to satisfy the demand for solutions to the persistent problem of underdevelopment in the country, Mr Seaga, during the Budget Debate on April 22, 1982, announced that one of his priorities was that of creating a skills-training and employment programme for Jamaicans.
The HEART Trust/NTA operates 27 Technical and Vocational Education and Training locations which focus on providing a variety of training options to ALL Jamaicans seeking to advance their career options.  Programmes are geared at transforming the lives of school leavers as well as employed persons who require training and certification. This model has been copied all over the world.
Former Prime Minister Seaga like Dr Mavis Burke thought of education as a holistic engagement. I guess that is one of the many reasons they were both excited by the idea and founding of PACE.
PACE our constant
Today PACE is a shining example of the power of partnerships. It has provided over C$500,000 (J$50 million) in funding to the ECIs and Basic Schools, Teacher Training and health projects in Jamaica since 2014 (3 years).   PACE has also partnered with George Brown College to conduct educational workshops and ECE student exchanges in Jamaica.
Many of us I am sure know that the original mandate of the organization was to assist community based- preschools [called basis schools], in Jamaica]. That noble mandate has been expanded to include the wellbeing of children in Canada, as well as supporting teacher training, parent conference and spreading the word about the need to support young children as they grow and learn.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want us to stand and give a hefty round of applause as a sign of enduring respect to the work of Dr. Mavis Burke, and former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable Edward Seaga.
PACE continues to blossom
PACE Canada has grown into a magnificent structure with a highly skilled and competent team that is led by Sandra Whiting, President and Fundraising Chair. Dr. Whiting on the behalf of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information which I lead and Jamaican Government and people who I proudly serve, I say heartfelt thanks for the life-changing work of PACE Canada.
The road ahead for Early Childhood Education in Jamaica
Before I close, please allow me to give a synopsis of the direction in which we are taking the development of our basic schools in Jamaica.
We are reforming that critical rung of our education system under what is called our Early Childhood Rationalisation Programme which involves: merging clusters of basic schools as well as subsuming some into infant departments of primary schools. This is done according to factors such as the number of students at each institution and the needs of the area, among other considerations.
Fourteen infant departments are to be established at primary schools across the island under the Early Childhood Rationalisation Programme. Regional teams from the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) and the ministry are engaged in work to facilitate the rationalisation process.
This process entails providing data on basic schools in proximity to the primary schools that will be impacted, as well as participating in meetings with the boards of management of the primary institutions to provide information on the process and requirements for registration with the ECC.
A sum of $50 million has been provided in this year’s budget for renovation or modification works at primary schools to create infant departments. A similar amount was allocated in last year’s budget for the creation of infant departments in 30 primary schools. Work has been completed on 28, while the remaining two are almost ready.
The rationalisation process, will provide children with access to high-quality early childhood services that will positively impact their development. This will result in improved student performance at the primary and secondary levels and reduce the need for remedial studies.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are moving towards the elimination of the privately owned and operated basic schools as the rule and not the exception. This is the only way that we can have synchrony in the quality of education which is offered at this crucial rung of the education ladder.
Over many decades several hybrids of private ownership and government supported systems at the early childhood level have been tested and tried. Studies have shown they have not yielded the kind of results that are necessary to meet the needs of our children and an education system which demands that our children are adequately stimulated in readiness for the secondary schools system. We are working towards changing that educational deficit once and for all.
Over the next few months and years we will be   increase the pace [no pun intended], of the Early Childhood Rationalisation Programme. We will need the expanded support of PACE to accelerate this programme. Sandra, please be get ready, because I shall be calling upon you with even greater regularity.

Point of optimism
Ladies and gentlemen, I am optimistic based on results already achieved, that we are on the right path to great advancement in early childhood education in Jamaica. With yours and the help of others, we can make it happen.
Thank You!
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