(Jamaica Gleaner): The most important period of development in a child’s life is the first 1,000 days, and that fact was reinforced by the launch of the zero-to-three strategy, Jamaica Brain Builders Programme, on Friday, at the Cynthia Shako Early Childhood and Day Care Centre at the University of Technology.
The launch followed multiple consultations and marked the first public presentation of the programme that could revolutionise Jamaica’s education system by putting greater focus on the formative years of a child.
“What we are doing is that we are building the nation’s brains, which is why we need to explain to the country why the first 1,000 days are important,” stated Maureen Samms-Vaughan, professor of child health, child development and behaviour at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.
Samms-Vaughan, who gave an overview of the programme, explained that the first 1,000 days actually start at conception and not at birth, noting that the emphasis that was now being placed on this most formative of days of a child would aid in the overall capacity of that child to learn and retain through adulthood.
“That first few days en utero is absolutely critical because if we don’t get things right from inside the womb, then we are going to have problems all the way through life,” she said.
“That’s why it starts at en utero with the first 270 days, it takes all of the first year of life, and it takes all of the second year of life, which goes right up to two years, 11 months and 30 days, which is where the first 1,000 days stop.
Education Minister Ruel Reid told the gathering that approximately $540 million has already been secured for the rolling out of the zero-to-three strategy island wide. An additional $72 million has been made available from the CHASE (Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education) Fund.
Reid, who has been championing this new approach to educating the island’s children, said that after all the technocrats meet and the policy is drafted and legislated, all that’s left for him to do as minister is to implement it.
“I think that all of us are very clear that if we are going to have an education system that delivers the outcome that we all want, with all the ingredients, that make all the connecting parts work together for that achievement, then starting with the first 1,000 days must be that path we take,” said Reid, who indicated that he was a huge fan of the education model in Finland, which is ranked at the top among developed nations.