Newly appointed minister in the Ministry of Education Lisa Julian-Morris will be focusing on early childhood students when virtual classes reopen on Monday.
On Friday, Morris-Julian said among her responsibilities, she will oversee 15 divisions, including the accreditation council and local school boards, but for now, her focus is on early childhood care and education (ECCE).
“We just finished our very first edition for distance learning programmes,” she said.
“The recommendation is one hour of screen-time for this particular stage.”
She said the screen-time for toddlers would include a story and a recap of the child’s day.
“On Monday, for example, our theme is ‘All about me,’ where the child is encouraged to talk about themselves, their family and their surroundings, and then there will be a half an hour of story time.”
She said government schools will contribute to the initiative, with a different teacher being highlighted every week.
“I’m very excited about the programme,” she said. “It’s a difficult time for us all. These are the youngest in our education system and they have to deal with the pandemic just like everyone else and we want to make sure they are not left behind.
“I want parents to know they are not alone. We will be doing this together.”
Morris-Julian said she is grateful for the “experience and kindness” of Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.
“My background is in local government. She has far more experience than me,” she said. Morris-Julian stepped down as Arima mayor to successfully contest the D'Abadie Omeara seat in the August 10 general election.
No stranger to education, Morris-Julian served as a secondary school teacher and a TTUTA representative, but her biggest contribution to the administration, she said, is her five children.
“I know every end of the spectrum,” said Julian-Morris.
She said she is very grateful for the minister’s commitment to special education. In an interview with Newsday on Monday, Gadsby-Dolly said the ministry plans to place emphasis on special education.
“Special education needs the attention.” Morris-Julian said she has one child who is dyslexic and another with attention deficit disorder.
“Parents are the best advocates for their children (and) I am impressed with the dedication of the teachers. Once you are in special education you have to be emotionally invested.”
The two ministers visited several ECCE centres and special-needs schools last weekend, and in the past week, the ministry gave out 70 laptops to ECCE teachers and 98 laptops to public schools for students with special needs.