History and Evolution of Early Childhood Education Care and Development in Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago is a small twin island country located in the south of the Caribbean. Prior to independence from Britain in 1962, Trinidad was colonized and brought under Spanish, French and later, British rule (Educational System, 2011) and in 1976 Trinidad and Tobago became a republic nation within the commonwealth realm (George, 2001). Following independence in 1962, Trinidad and Tobago continued to shadow the British system of education (Education System, 2011). In Trinidad and Tobago, education is free for all, and compulsory beginning at age six, and ending at age thirteen (AACRAO, 2008), however, early childhood education, between the ages of three and five is not mandatory, but nevertheless, many people enroll their children in early childhood education centers, in order to prepare them for primary school. According to the Ministry of Education in Trinidad and Tobago (2013), “an Early Childhood Care and Education Centre refers to all facilities providing learning support, care and development services, to children from three to five years of age”. Throughout time, the early childhood educational system of Trinidad and Tobago has evolved since it’s early beginnings; many milestones have been attained, standards for the provision of early childhood care and education (ECCE) have been created, maintained and improved, and nevertheless, there are plans for further evolution of the system. History/ The Early Beginnings.
The contextual elements of the early childhood education system in Trinidad and Tobago have radically evolved over time (EDC, 2008). In the early years, up until the 1950’s, unqualified providers were offering early childhood care in private settings that did not follow any sort of standards and regulations, as facilities consistently exhibited substandard conditions (EDC, 2008). Beginning in the 1960’s, efforts boosted the “formalization of a systematic approach to early childhood care and education”, as “the Government of Trinidad and Tobago responded to the need for an early childhood education system” (EDC, 2008, p. 11). After this decision, the government created “a preschool unit, which established community centres as multi-purpose facilities to serve the comprehensive needs of the communities”; theses centres offered a range of cultural and educational activities, as well as skills training for all, free of charge (EDC, 2008, P.11). Following this, training and resource centres were made available, in order to prepare, and qualify, ECCE teachers to provide such care and education to the children of the country (EDC, 2008). Later on, after a vast amount of qualified early childhood practitioners were readily available, and policies and regulations were put in place for the ECCE centres in Trinidad and Tobago to conform to, a new vision for early childhood education and care was created (EDC, 2008). Milestones/ Timeline.
After efforts by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, to create a systemic approach to ECCE, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago accomplished many milestones within the early childhood education system (EDC, 2008). Following the formalization of a systemic approach in the 1960’s, the government piloted the first two model nursery schools in Trinidad and Tobago, that offered a services to families and communities- one in San Fernando and the other in La Pastora (EDC, 2008). During those pivotal years, many various infrastructures and materials were developed that provided a basis for the development of the systemic approach (EDC, 2008). In the 1970’s the Service Volunteered for All (SERVOL) agency “established a Regional Training and Resource Centre to prepare ECCE teachers, and created sixteen new centres in the areas of Trinidad with the most critical needs” (EDC, 2008, p. 11). The government later began to collaborate with Service Volunteered for All (SERVOL) centres in the...
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