Dáil Éireann - Volume 541 - 09 October, 2001
Written Answers. - White Paper on Early Childhood Education.
Mr. Bell Mr. Bell
143. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Education and Science the timescale envisaged for the full implementation of the White Paper on Early Childhood Education; and the reason for the delay in progressing the main provision therein. [22980/01]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The White Paper on Early Childhood Education, Ready to Learn, sets out a comprehensive strategy for the development of early childhood education for children aged up to six years. Following its publication, my Department undertook an extensive post-consultation process with interested parties in the sector followed by detailed discussions with specific third level institutions on the implementation of the main proposals in the White Paper.
There were no significant delays during this process and I am pleased to say that I have recently appointed St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra, and the Dublin Institute of Technology, both of which have considerable expertise in the  area, to undertake a major project to develop and support the provision of quality early childhood education in pursuit of the objectives of the White Paper. The project, which will run for up to three years, will involve the establishment of a centre for early childhood development and education which will be jointly managed by the two institutions and staffed by a suitably qualified professional team. The centre will develop appropriate quality standards in relation to the wide range of issues affecting early childhood education including equipment and material, staff qualifications and training, teaching and learning methodologies, curriculum, guidance for parents and related areas. It will also design and pilot measures to encourage compliance with those quality standards by early education providers.
A key function of the centre will be to examine and develop appropriate forms of early intervention and support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and children with disabilities, building on the experience of existing programmes.
The work of the centre will be undertaken in  close consultation with my Department and the various agencies, advisory bodies and providers in the sector. Funding for the project will be met from the £74 million allocation provided by the Government under the national development plan for the implementation of the White Paper.
Dáil Éireann 541 Written Answers. White Paper on Early Childhood Education.