We believe the next logical step in this evolution of public education is to bring kindergarten into the school system. My Government is committed to achieving this during the current mandate, following a thorough, careful and sensitive consultation process.
My Government recognizes the importance of the early childhood years, and applauds the professional efforts of early childhood educators who support families with their knowledge, talents and commitment. Our transition to full public kindergarten will be undertaken in partnership with the early childhood education community.
My Government stands firm in its commitment that every child deserves the best start in life. Therefore, we applaud the Chances Best Start Program which helps children and families. In recognition of Government’s commitment, funding for this program will be expanded to include children from 18 to 24 months in 2008-2009.
Unquestionably, Prince Edward Island must do more to offer Island children the best possible education so that their inherent talents and abilities are able to flourish and thrive.
My Government also understands that programs offered by our schools should be equitably available to every Islander. On the basis of that understanding, my Government will begin to eliminate student fees for curriculum-based activities. This measure will remove any potential impediments to families who only want the best for their children.
Further, my Government recognizes the importance of a healthy diet for learning. Many volunteers and educators have worked tirelessly to establish 50 breakfast and nutrition programs across our Island. My Government will support this dedication to the health and well-being of young Islanders by introducing additional supports for breakfast programs in Island schools.
My Government will also enhance family literacy projects, which have proven to be very successful over the last year. The Spring Into Reading program brings families together by helping parents to become more engaged in the literacy skills of their children. Similarly, my Government is proud of the progress made in schools to help ensure that every Island child has an opportunity to learn. As part of my Government’s new Learning Disabilities Strategy now in development, our speech language pathologists will help children in grades two to six with language and literacy challenges.
My Government also applauds the ambitious progress that is being made by primary teachers to help Island children develop much stronger literacy skills in the early grades.
This year, the Student Achievement Action Plan will include the addition of four new literacy coaches in Island schools. The success of the program will help to guide potential new initiatives in early numeracy. Another important initiative under the Student Achievement Action Plan is the introduction of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.