First consultative meeting on the 14 standards proposed
A national consultation and validation workshop on the draft national standards for centre-based child minding services (day care services) was held on Friday last week.
The workshop, held at the STC conference room, was organised by the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and the Institute of Early Childhood Development (IECD) in collaboration with key sectors in ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education).
The event was attended by the Minister for Education and Human Resource Development, Jeanne Simeon; the Speaker of the National Assembly Nicolas Préa; the Ambassador for Women and Children, Dr Erna Athanasius; and various high level officials including principal secretaries and chief executives of ECCE sectors, the chairman of the IECD board and day care operators.
The aim of the workshop was to sensitise the participants on the draft standards for centre-based child minding services and to solicit their valuable contributions. The Institute of Early Childhood Development Act 2014 (IECD Act 2014) makes provision for the regulation of child minding services by IECD, which includes both home-based and centre-based services.
In February 2019, as part of the transition plan for the migration and full regulation of centre-based services from the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development to IECD, a team from the SEED Institute in Singapore carried out a thorough assessment in all 27 registered centres in Seychelles. Several issues were identified and recommendations were proposed. One of the major recommendations is the revision of the existing and development of new standards to raise the quality and overall service provision.
Several standards have been developed through the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders and partners in ECCE in Seychelles. These standards will not only set the norms but also establish expectations for all relevant stakeholders, including day care personnel, parents and children among other professionals in ECCE.
“In Seychelles, there is an increasing trend for young children below the age of four to be cared for at home or centre-based child minding establishments. This is because more and more parents with young children are engaged in work or education-related activities, necessitating their being away from home for the day. Therefore, with children of a young age spending a substantial portion of their time in childcare settings, the quality of care and development provided for them is a fundamental matter, which we should not take lightly. It warrants the need to ensure that the provision of childcare services meets at least acceptable standards,” noted Minister Siméon.
She also talked about the survey that was conducted in 2012-2013 on early childhood by the government of Seychelles and the World Bank and how the findings brought to light several gaps in the existing ECD system, particularly, in the areas of quality standards (for facilities, staff, service delivery and early learning programmes), training of personnel, data management, monitoring and evaluation, and regulation.
“The task at hand in this multi-sectoral forum is extremely important as you deliberate on the holistic development and future of our children, building capacity of personnel in centre-based services, and strengthening mechanisms and programmes for improved service delivery and practices, among others.
My advice to you is to think outside of the box, reflect in a rational manner, set aside the negative vibes due to resistance to change or we will not progress forward, weigh the pros and cons of the arguments presented, and take on board invaluable input for further enrichment of the document. Together, let us work hard for yielding maximum returns in the investments of our most precious resources – our young children, and leave the rest in the hands of the government for the provision of national level support and direction,” stressed the minister.
Shirley Choppy, the chief executive of the IECD, noted that “We were asked to regulate the day care centres. So when it was established what was in there, the level of provision they are currently implementing, what are the current standards they are using, whether they are having any challenges in implementing the standards and also what are the good practices we need to keep, so that’s why we did the assessment”.
She added that following that, they met with all the day care operators and shared the results in a programme and then started work to relook at the standards.
“In December 2019, we met with the day care operators and the parents. Today is the first consultation with various stakeholders. As has been said, it is a draft proposal and we would like as many feedbacks as possible for us to validate and come up with something that is good and everybody agree with. And also at the same time, it reflects the priorities and the strategies of government,” Mrs Choppy said.
The day care operators have received a copy of the full draft as it is still a working document, but today all participants have received a draft of the standards that they need to work on.
“We expect to have many comments. In the next six months, we will be able to finalise everything and once the draft is ready, we are going to start work on the regulations and then this will give the IECD the legal base to regulate the sector.”
Talking to some day care operators, they raised the concern that they have not been adequately consulted on issues that are instrumental to the industry and felt that their valuable input would have been helpful. They are also concerned about the financial implication which comes with the standards being proposed.
“Will the government help us in acquiring all the necessary equipment or resources that will come with these decisions?” asked the day care operators.
The resource persons for the event were Shirley Choppy and Selby Dora, consultant/regulator of day care services.
Vidya Gappy – Nation.sc