The University of the West Indies-Family Development Centre
On Friday 16th September 1988 the University of the West Indies’ Faculty of Education opened its Laboratory Pre-school – the first University Laboratory Pre-school in the region. From 1988 to 2000, the Centre grew as global theories and international standards evolved. An eclectic curriculum, drawing principles from Reggio Emilia schools, HighScope and Montessori programmes and Howard Gardner’s philosophy of Multiple Intelligences: How Children Learn, distinguished this pioneering centre.
Objectives and Target Audience
The UWI Family Development Centre is an International Centre for the protection and promotion of the rights of every child to quality home and school environments.
It targets, as a priority, the critical early childhood development needs of Caribbean through policy-oriented research and complementary early childhood services to families and their communities. Research and development, interdisciplinary teaching/training and the provision of advisory and consultancy services are the Centre’s main areas of operation.
The UWI-FDC involves itself in Advocacy and Knowledge Building through:
- Legislative/Policy-related Advocacy
- Efforts commence with observation and monitoring of the effectiveness of pre-existing policies
- Policy dialogue
- Campaigns for policy change
- Cause Advocacy – The UWI-FDC represents the interest of and defends the rights of the child as defined by the United Nations.
- Advocacy Strategies employed by The UWI-FDC include:
- Sharing user-friendly information which is aimed to dispel myths and generate informed dialogue
- The publication of stories about the struggles and concerns of families and children to generate understanding, compassion and solidarity.
- Exercising its power to shape public, institutional practices and/or public policies to be more oriented towards the rights and needs of children.
Notable Achievements of the FDC
The UWI-FDC prides itself in having been the facilitator of the creation of the largest painting done by children in the Caribbean entitled, “Hope,” measuring 10’x24’. Through its creation process, the twenty-two (22) children involved were given an opportunity to express themselves and use their individual voices in sync within a theme. They learned new skills and concepts and expressed themselves in a way which would resound with the centre and with them throughout their lives.
Another meaningful contribution The UWI-FDC has produced is the publication of its book “Childrearing Practices in the Caribbean: Lessons and Implications from a National Assessment in Trinidad and Tobago” edited by Dr. Carol Logie and Dr. Jaipaul Roopnarine. The investigation process on its own yielded a comprehensive and critical analysis of the current issues that children and their respective caregivers face. The process further challenged The UWI-FDC to apply research methods which can resolve these issues and work effectively for the child’s benefit. The compilation of this information is presented in a way that is not just informative and reliable, but practical to all levels of professionals in the child care field and to parents or guardians. The book is tangible proof of The UWI-FDC’s devotion towards the child and reflects its desire to find possible, feasible solutions for the present and future generations.
It is The UWI-FDC’s goal to foster a greater sense of respect for children from the general public. Sometimes, the Caribbean philosophy seems to forget that children are humans as well, that they are capable of great things, and their voices and concerns are valid. Unfortunately, that ideology has justified the sluggish movement towards best practices in the Early-years, leading to children’s voices being suppressed. We want our local and regional community to invest and focus more on the holistic development of children. It is our wish that the culture of how we treat with children is adjusted so that they are given opportunities to think more deeply on the issues that relate to them and give suggestions on what they think works best.
The UWI-FDC aims to cultivate conscious awareness regarding children as the centre of societal matters. It is our view that the critical foundation – the first eight (8) years of a child’s life – is the key to revolutionising our societies. National and regional progress and development has to begin with those first eight (8) formative years of a child’s life.
Opportunities for Volunteerism with the FDC