Every child is deserving of the greatest start in life. Research has established that children’s early experiences and exposures set the neurological and biological pathways that affect children’s health and cognitive, language, and social-emotional development. The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Maria Holder Memorial Trust, Higher Education Development Unit and McMaster’s University embarked on a partnership to implement an instrument that would be essential to the assessment of the impact of Nursery School Education in Barbados.
The Early Development Instrument (EDI) tool assesses the strengths and deficits of students as well as their readiness for learning after coming through Nursery School Programs. The EDI will assess five key domains:
- Physical health and well-being
- Social competence.
- Emotional maturity.
- Language and cognitive development.
- Communication skills and general knowledge.
Moreover, this tool facilitates an understanding about the developmental health of populations of children and allows organizations and policy makers to make informed decisions about programs that support children’s areas of greatest need.
After refinement of the instrument for use in the Barbadian context the project was then piloted in 19 Primary and Nursery Schools in Barbados successfully. Training was provided to the Master’s Cohort of teachers in the then named Wheelock Program (Boston University) to carry out the assessment.
This project will be executed on a larger scale in the 71 Primary Schools in Barbados and some of the Private schools as well. As a long term initiative the EDI will be essential in the establishment of an Eastern Caribbean hub for Early Childhood Education best practices and research, inform policy and most of all inform educators on the level of pupil readiness for Primary School.