By Benjamin Flowers
The Government of Belize, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is continuing its drive to develop early Childhood Development Services through sectoral integration.
Denise Robeateau, UNICEF education officer in Belize, explained this week that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Health and Human Development have formed a technical committee tasked with developing a national action plan for eary childhood development service improvement countrywide.
“The main goal of the action plan is to have more access for children from birth to three years old to ECD services,” Robeateau said.
“The plan will focus on how to strengthen each ministry individually and then on integrating the services.”
Robeateau told The Reporter that while each of the participating ministries offers early childhood development services, they do so in isolation from each other.
And now the technical committee is charged with harmonizing those efforts.
She explained that the government is preparing a first-of-its-kind training next month, where representatives from all three ministries will synthesize the type of training given in early childhood education to coin a standard training module for all of them to use.
The committee is preparing a similar exercise for the training and informational material disseminated by the three ministries, to standardize the content.
Ivan Yerovi, UNICEF representative, explained that even though Belize has a consultant who worked on a similar integration model in Colombia, the integration system being set up is being customized in Belize for Belize.
“We cannot implement the Colombian model because the country’s context is not the same,” Yerovi said, ‘’ it must fit the Belizean reality.”
Last month the three ministries met at the Radisson Fort George Hotel for the first stake holder meeting on integration. From the meeting, the working committee began preparing the national action plan, and identified the need to create a National Coordinator’s post to oversee the phases of integration.
The committee is in ongoing meetings to draft up the terms of reference for the post.