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St. Lucia to be Caribbean Support Initiative Pilot Project

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Tuesday, February 04, 2003 - St. Lucia has been chosen as one of two Caribbean countries set to implement a five-year regional programme focusing on parenting initiatives in Early Childhood Development. The project, dubbed the Caribbean Support Initiative (CSI) is supported by the Holland based Bernard Van Leer Foundation and the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD), located in Barbados.

The CSI will serve as an intermediary resource project which will bring people and resources together to enhance Early Childhood Development capacity and knowledge in the sub-region. The main objective is to promote good parenting practices in early childhood development with specific emphasis on ‘at risk groups’. CSI Programme Director Susan Branker says “St. Lucia qualifies under the criteria in terms of levels of poverty, the whole question of having a national plan of action with respect to early childhood development and of course the type of social infrastructure that is required as it relates to promoting the development of children.”

Branker indicated that the CSI commissioned a feasibility study conducted by current Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Dr. Didacus Jules to examine the question of replicating some of the best practices that exist with respect to parenting support in the Caribbean. “Coming out of this St. Lucia was identified as one of the priority countries which should in fact be part of the first phase of a piloting project,” she said. Dominica has been chosen as the second country to initiate the project.

The major focus of the CSI’s work programme for 2003 is the development of a parent outreach programme centred on reaching the remote community, institutional and audience focused approaches. Hubert Schreurs who represents the Bernard Van Leer Foundation explained the rational behind the exercise. “We believe that not enough attention is going to the primary educators of children which are parents. We are of the view that parents in their own rights are in need of support coming from different circles and we want to examine the options that will in a way be fairly new for countries like Dominica and St. Lucia.”

He stated that tangible evidence of the Caribbean Support Initiative operations on the island will be visible in the coming months.

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