Georgetown, Guyana (February 24, 2017) Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally, pledged the continuous support of her Ministry for the Early Childhood Development Programme, which is an initiative of the Office of the First Lady even as another 29 participants graduated from the first phase of the current training programme last Thursday. Delivering the feature address at the graduation ceremony at the Baridi Benab, State House for the participants, who were drawn from the Central Islamic Organisation (CIOG), Women Across Differences (WAD), St. John’s Bosco Orphanage and Office of the First Lady, the Minister said that the three-week course is an important contribution to building capacity for early childhood care practitioners.

“Early childhood development programs are critical long term investments in early learning that our country needs. They are the best and most effective tool we have to close the achievement opportunity gaps,” she said Minister Ally went on to pledge her Ministry’s continuous support of First Lady’s Early Childhood Development initiative. “We believe that it is good, we believe that it is going to make a difference in Guyana,” she added.

The objective of the three-part workshop is to provide the stakeholders with basic information and skills in early childhood development and nurturing care practices for the growth and development of young children. Delivering opening remarks at the ceremony, First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, stressed the importance of women taking charge of their own lives and placing emphasis on training and education.

“I know it has been a rigorous three weeks but I think you came out feeling much more confident about what you can do; much more positive about yourself and I think you can hold your head up very high when you apply for a position in the field of child care and tell them you have been professionally trained because your certificate is recognised by the Board of Industrial Training… We have to start encouraging our society at large and ourselves to say we have trained for a professional position. This is a job and they must respect that and they must pay us for our skills and our expertise,” she said.

Meanwhile, one of the graduates of the programme, Ms. Pheona Bollers, who also spoke at the ceremony, reflected on the number of informative topics covered during the course of the workshop. Referencing the first aid course, which was one of the components of the programme and was facilitated by the Guyana Red Cross Society (GRCS), she said, “I can now identify what is right or wrong in the area of first aid… This training has provided us with a sense of purpose and achievement, giving us the skills that we can use to save lives.”

Another participant, a first year nursery school teacher from the CIOG, Ms. Mala Nazeem, shared with the small audience that she was uncertain about what to expect but was incredibly satisfied once she had completed the program. “The ways by which the facilitators have helped me to understand my profession and the ways by which their experiences have inspired me to new ways of thinking and teaching and being a good parent makes me happy,” she said.

Topics covered during the course included an introduction to early childhood development, the early years of a child’s life, basic nutrition and young child feeding, stimulating children’s learning through play, creating a safe and stimulating environment for young children in the home, providing nurturing care to young children, observing nurturing care practices at a child care facility, positive discipline and first aid training.

In July 2017 a batch of 38 women had also graduated this course. They were drawn from the Buxton Day Care Centre, Women Across Differences (WAD), the Lusignan-Good Hope Learning Centre, the St. John Bosco Orphanage, Sophia and the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana’s (CIOG) Georgetown District and other groups.

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