A new Private Preschool Partnership (PPP) signed between the Ministry of Education and a number of private preschool operators on Wednesday will allow hundreds of 3- and 4-year-olds to benefit from a pre-primary education.
Forty-four private primary school providers signed on to the new agreement confirmed Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd.
“We are very pleased with the cohort of private schools that are now working with us. They are very keen and capable with proven track records,” Lloyd noted.
The education ministry announced ahead of the 2018 school year that it intended to enroll an additional 1,000 preschoolers in an aggressive pre-primary program.
The program is aimed at increasing the opportunity for some 3, 000 preschoolers to take advantage of pre-primary education over the next three years.
Only 300 preschoolers were able to enroll in public pre-primary education in September.
The newly-signed PPP, which takes immediate effect, has enrolled a little over 400 new preschoolers into the pre-primary education program.
“In this instance we’ve only been able to get 427. We were aiming for 500 or more so that we would be able to make up the 1,000 that we were aiming for, but we will continue and we are happy that the private sector is working with us,” Lloyd said.
“Vouchers of up to $2,000 per child will be provided to secure their enrollment in approved private pre-primary schools.”
The education minister confirmed that the private preschools were fully vetted by his ministry before they were allowed to sign onto the partnership.
“They have to meet certain infrastructure requirements and curriculum requirements so that when they finish preschool they can easily transfer into grade 1,” Lloyd asserted.
“So, there is a requirement and we are aiming to ensure that these requirements are met from the beginning.”
While there were dozens of private preschool operators who qualified for the new program, there were many others who were unable to qualify because they were not registered with the Ministry of Education, Lloyd confirmed.
“Another component which disqualified some private preschoolers is that they are not registered with the Ministry of Education and that’s a feature of our law. The education act requires that if you are offering any academic or educational services in The Bahamas you must be registered with the ministry and many of them are not and are not qualified with business licenses etc.,” he shared.
“We are working with them to bring them up to speed. We do not want to put them out of business but the country has its laws. So, we are looking forward to them getting their business in order so that we can sign them on to the program in the near future.”
The Bahamas 2010 Census revealed that less than half of Bahamian students ages 3-4 were enrolled in preschool.
“Therefore, the purpose of introducing Universal Pre-Primary Education is to ensure that all boys and girls have access to quality early education development and care, and pre-primary education by 2030,” a press statement from the Ministry of Education stated.
“The ministry plans to achieve this milestone by increasing the number of 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in a pre-primary program each year.”
The program is expected to be carried out on Family Islands as well.
The ministry has confirmed that Grand Bahama, Andros and Abaco will participate in the PPP.