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Evaluation report

2000 CAB: Quality of Early Childhood Provisions: Survey of 33 Early childhood centres in Grenada



Author: Williams, S.; Caribbean Child Development Centre

Executive summary

Background

The decision to survey the quality of a sample of early childhood centers was taken in the context of four national developments:
- the adoption of the Caribbean Plan of Action for Early Childhood Education, Care and Development by heads of CARICOM governments in July 1997
- the decision by the Early Childhood Education Services and Day Care Services to develop coordinated policy in early childhood and to work towards more collaborative training for the sector as a whole
- the decision in September 1999 by the Ministry of Education to undertake an Education Sector Diagnosis
- the consultation by the Ministry on the Second Draft of the Education Act 1999 (Grenada)

Purpose / Objective

The purpose for undertaking a survey of the quality of early childhood provisions is:
- To inform each of the above national development processes
- To establish a baseline for policy development and service improvement
- To inform the understanding in both early childhood education and day care of the priorities for change
- To provide a snapshot of the status of quality in a representative sample
- To inform the development of future standards and training for the sector as a whole

Methodology

33 centers were chosen by a process of random stratification. The centers were stratified by sector: government, NGO and private; and geographic location: rural and urban. The Early Childhood Environments Rating Scale (ECERS) Revised Edition (1998) was used for the survey.

Key Findings and Conclusions

Regarding Indoor space, Nutrition, Nap/rest, Toileting and Health practices, the issue of basic hygiene is emerging as a critical issue to address in a number of centers. The findings in relation to Health practices suggest that very basic training of staff, and of children by staff, has not resulted in consistent high standards of personal hygiene. 82% of the sample failed to meet the minimal level in Health practices; this is an unacceptable level and should be addressed urgently in regulation and training.

55% of those failing to meet the minimum level for space for gross motor equipment did not provide space that was safe enough or free from danger. In 30%, the space was in poor repair: and in 15% of centers, dangerous furniture needs to be urgently repaired.

The importance of good nutrition in the early years -- even in the case of snack provision at an early childhood care center -- cannot be ignored in the interest of child development. 76% of the centers fall below the minimum level, of which 80% provided food of unacceptable nutritional value.

Intensive support is required in a few centers (17% of the sample) to develop staff cooperation and communication, strategies for fairer distribution of responsibilities and team dynamics. Attention should be paid to the 10% of the centers in the sample in which there is no supervisory or feedback structure.

Over a third of centers fell below the minimum level in accessibility of books. In less than a third of the centers, concerns have arisen regarding the encouragement of children to communicate. In those centers failing to achieve a minimum level, the staff are not fully aware of the opportunities they have for using language to develop the reasoning skills of children. In over a third of the centers, staff are not proactive in encouraging children to participate or be responsive to children as individuals. Development of interactions among children is not valued in 39% of the centers. In just over a third of the centers, there is hesitation or reluctance to let children play alone or with a friend despite the existence of space for privacy, which is not difficult to supervise. The failure to display children's work was the main reason why 45% of the centers did not achieve a minimum level in giving expression to the creativity of children.

Dramatic play seems to be a largely unexplored part of the curriculum for two-thirds of the children. Nature and science activities could have much more potential for development in over half of the centers. Only 3% of the sample achieved higher than the basic minimum level in providing an introduction to mathematics in the early years. The findings for fine motor activities reveal that, in a quarter of the centers, there are insufficient resources for daily use.

Centers have been slow to involve parents as partners. Only 15% of the centers achieved a good rating.

Recommendations

Officers should assist those centers that participated in the survey to address areas that have not achieved a minimum level. However, where staff development, program intervention, training or organizational development is required in order to effect improvements, individual centers will be assisted collectively within the rest of the sector as a whole, in a program of improvements following the recommendations outlined above.

Heads of services should develop a plan of action and timetable for the implementation of priority actions to be taken in light of the recommendations coming out of this quality survey. The plan should also include the findings of the baseline survey on the structure, operation, enrollment, attendance and staffing of the centers, undertaken as part of the EMIS study for the Education Sector Diagnosis.

Continuing support for the implementation of a plan for service improvement will be provided by the UNICEF early childhood consultant and UNICEF national consultant and, in conjunction with officers and practitioners, assistance will be given to identify both national and regional assistance for specific tasks.



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Report information

Date:
2000

Region:
TACRO

Country:
Caribbean

Type:
Survey

Theme:
ECD - Center Based Care

Partners:
Ministry of Education

PIDB:
D134

Follow Up:

Language:
English

Sequence Number:
2000/005

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