The Impact of COVID-19 on the Early Childhood Sector – What has the ECC been doing? Perspective from Training and Development

Today’s blog is an interview from Ms. Nicole Morgan. She is the Manager for the Training and Development Unit at the Early Childhood Commission.

ECC: Thank you for taking part in this interview and sharing your perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on the ECD sector and the support that your department/unit has been providing.

ECC: Could you kindly provide us with an overview of your Unit’s work and how it directly impacts the ECD sector?

NM: The Training and Development Unit plans, coordinates and implements a variety of training opportunities to improve early childhood practitioners, caregivers, and teachers’ skills, knowledge and attitude in delivering quality education and learning programmes in the early years. Training programmes are also developed for parents of children from birth-5 years. Some of the training opportunities that are coordinated and facilitated by the Training and Development Unit are:

Curriculum Support Training for ECPs of children 0-5 years

Curriculum support training is conducted weekly to support early childhood practitioners in the delivery and implementation of the Jamaica Early Childhood Curriculum.  The training is facilitated by the Early Childhood Services Development Officers. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the training sessions were usually facilitated face-to-face at the regional Resource Centres or at selected early childhood institutions.

Plans and Policy Writing

This training provides support to principals and operators of early childhood institutions in writing the individualized ECIs’ Plans and Policy documents as recommended in the Standards for Operation, Management and Administration of Early Childhood Institutions.  These plans include Disaster Plans, Health and Sanitation, Fire Safety Plans, Nutrition Plans ECIs Programme and Development Plans. The training sessions are facilitated by the Inspectorate core on 1st Wednesdays of every month. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the training sessions were usually facilitated face-to-face at the regional Resource Centres or at selected early childhood institutions.  However, since July 2020, the training sessions have been facilitated virtually using the GOOGLE MEET platform.

ECC: How has COVID-19 affected your work in the ECD sector?

NM: The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the Unit to achieve certain goals sooner than expected. These goals include full implementation of online training, online registration and online evaluation of training sessions. Online registration and online evaluation was first introduced in 2019 for only the Legal Requirement Trainings. However, this was not implemented fully until the COVID-19 pandemic. Since August 2020, the training sessions have been facilitated virtually using the GOOGLE MEET platform.  The sessions are age specific and are conducted accordingly:

  • 2nd Wednesday – Teachers/ECPs of 3-year-old children
  • 3rd Wednesday – Teachers/ECPs of 4-year-old children
  • 4th Wednesday – Teachers/ECPs of 5-year-old children
  • 4th Thursday – Teachers/ECPs/Caregivers of children birth-2 years

Online Inclusive Early Childhood Development Certificate Course

The free online Inclusive Early Childhood Development Certificate Course was designed to sensitize practitioners of the different types of development disabilities in young children and how to support these children. The training began January 25, 2021. 

Legal Requirements Training

All early childhood practitioners (ECP) are mandated to have documented hours and certification in the following three named trainings. These trainings are coordinated by the Training and Development Unit to ensure that all ECPs have easy access to these trainings.  These trainings are:

  • Paediatric First Aid which cost of $3500 (Facilitated by EFAST)
  • Universal Universal Precaution and the Reporting Mechanisms under the Public Health Act (Facilitated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness) ($0)
  • Child Abuse and the Reporting Requirements under the Child Care & Protection Act (Facilitated by officers of the Children’s Registry) ($0)

ECC: What has your Unit been doing to support the ECD sector during the pandemic?

NM: The ECC has partnered with the Jamaica Teaching Council to provide training on Introduction to Google Classroom Training.  The ECC developed a Virtual Professional Development Institute programme for early childhood practitioners and early childhood stakeholders. The ECC has been partnering with training institutions or sponsors to provide additional trainings to meet the needs of the sector.

ECC: What are your hopes for the ECD sector in a post-COVID-19 world?

It is the hope to design more training opportunities for early childhood practitioners in smaller cohorts to better cater to the practitioners’ needs. Additionally, to use the best Learning Management System to deliver training.

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