News Release No. 18/12-G - CDB to Host Regional Conference in St. Kitts on Early Childhood Development

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No 18/12-G March 27 A regional conference on Early Childhood Development (ECD) under the theme, Towards Poverty Reduction: Maximising the Returns on Investment in ECD in the Caribbean, is to be hosted by the Basic Needs Trust Fund Programme (BNTF) of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). BNTF is a regional poverty reduction programme being implemented in ten CDB borrowing member countries. The conference will be held on April 2-4, 2012, at the Marriott's St. Kitts Beach Club under the auspices of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis. The conference will deliberate on policies, strategies and actions for optimising investment in ECD in the Caribbean, with a focus on providing an enabling environment for the achievement of quality ECD outcomes in children. The major outputs include recommendations on the designs of national mechanisms as part of the planning for the next steps at country level; and a draft policy paper for consideration by a special Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) meeting on Children, scheduled for May 2012. CDB, through BNTF, has invested in ECD infrastructure in the Region, including the Construction and refurbishment of day-care facilities, pre-schools and primary schools, and grants to the Roving Caregivers Programme as part of the Caribbean Child Support Initiative. Most recently, BNTF has supported the development and dissemination of Advocacy Toolkits and the coordination of training in their use. Grantees include community groups and public agencies with responsibility for social development and education. CDB has also provided other funding for the development of early childhood centres in a number of borrowing member countries. Lessons learned from these interventions indicate that there is need to strengthen the ECD-enabling environment to promote and sustain positive childhood development, especially in conditions of poverty and vulnerability. This includes promoting effective ECD policy and governance, improving curricula and teacher training and enhancing the learning environment, all within a framework of appropriate monitoring and support systems. The conference will bring together over 60 delegates from around the Region, joined by representatives of regional and international development agencies and a local contingent from St. Kitts and Nevis to share experiences and best practice towards the design of effective strategies for public, corporate and community engagement and support for quality ECD services.

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