Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 13th 2014 Contents A14
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Head of the Child Protection Task Force
Diana Mahabir-Wyatt said there was an
urgent need for standards to be set for pri-
vately-run pre-schools and daycare cen-
tres, particularly those set up by just about
anyone under a house.
Mahabir-Wyatt said she did not think
there was any government office which
Her call was in response to questions
from the T&T Guardian in the wake of the
death of five-year-old Jemimah Agard who
drowned after a swimming lesson at the
Young Men s Christian Association s Swim-
ming Pool in Port-of-Spain last week.
Jemimah s pre-school took her to the pool
for swimming lessons.
The death of ten-month-old baby Matai
Phillip at a daycare centre in Edinburgh 500
last Friday followed shortly after.
Autopsy results indicate Matai, who was
placed in a car seat at the centre, died from
He is the third child to have died in a
daycare centre in Chaguanas within the last
In 2011 and 2012 two children, in separate
incidents, died at daycare centres in Edin-
burgh, Chaguanas, one from blunt force
trauma and the other from choking.
Mahabir-Wyatt said every pre-school or
centre needed to be governed by regulations
that would set standards for the physical
conditions and infant to staff ratio of the
"I don t think there is any government
agency to monitor privately run pre-schools.
"So many people are just setting up pre-
schools without any kind of monitoring or
"Anybody in Trinidad can set up a nursery
and preschool under her house, and this
has been happening, with insufficient staff,"
There are several nurseries and pre-
schools in the Edinburgh 500, Chaguanas
area, where there is a large Housing Devel-
opment Corporation development.
Mahabir-Wyatt said some organisations
like Servol supervised their pre-schools.
She said the Children s Authority should
be the agency responsible for setting stan-
dards for the running of pre-schools.
Wyatt said the operators of the pre-school
that took Agard to swim at the YMCA were
so shattered by the incident that they had
the pre-school closed down.
"Parents and caregivers are under enor-
mous stress. But too many children are
losing their lives," she added.
Communications head at the Education
Ministry, Alicia Busby, said preschools did
not fall under the existing Education Act.
She added: "The ministry has been trying
to initiate public/private child-care packages
in which the ministry will buy private spaces
in return for some measure of control.
"People who are interested would have
signed the partnership agreement but not
all pres-schools opted for it.
"Outside of that, under the Education
Act, the ministry really does not have control
Busby said the ministry began a series of
consultations in April in a bid to amend the
"The act deals with children between the
ages of five and 12. The ministry wants to
amend it to have a greater say over children
between the ages of three and 16," she said.
She said the consultation would go to
Tobago next month.
The T&T Guardian contacted the Chil-
dren s Authority, as suggested by Mahabir-
Wyatt, and asked if it would be setting stan-
dards for pre-schools.
Cheryl Moses, communications manager,
called back and wanted to make sure the
journalist understood the question she was
She wanted to know if the T&T Guardian
was referring to nurseries or pre-schools.
She was told the authority was supposed
to look after the welfare of all children and,
so, the question referred to both nurseries
A day later, Moses responded by saying
children under five years would attend two
Those under three years would attend
nurseries (private entities), she said.
Those between three and five attended
Early Childhood Care and Education centres
which fell under the purview of the Ministry
Moses said: "At present, the Ministry of
Gender, Youth and Child Development is
developing a policy framework to guide the
standards and regulations for nurseries.
"Once these have been developed, and
the Children s Community Residences, Fos-
ter Homes and Nurseries Act is proclaimed,
the Children s Authority will be responsible
for monitoring the operations of nurseries."
Moses had no more to say on the matter,
not even on the large number of private
nurseries and pre-schools which are shooting
up all over T&T, many times under people s
Standards needed for
CHILDREN WHO DIED AT PRE-SCHOOLS
AND DAYCARE CENTRES
• June 2, 2014: Jemimah Agard, five, died from
drowning at the YMCA swimming pool in Port-
of-Spain after her pre-school took her there for
• June 6, 2014: Matai Phillip, ten months, died
from positional asphyxiation after he was
placed in a car seat in a daycare centre in
Edinburgh 500, Chaguanas.
• September 2012: Two-year-old Kimora
Roopnarine, of Phyllis Lane, Enterprise, died of
blunt force trauma after spending the earlier
part of the day at a daycare centre a short
distance from her home.
• :February 2011: Three-month-old Amrit
Dhanraj was found dead inside a crib at an
Edinburgh, Chaguanas, daycare centre. The
baby, who was in reportedly in good condition
when his parents dropped him off, died from
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