The Ministry of Education is planning to expand its services to include kindergarten for 5-year-olds beginning next school year, according to a letter to Marcia Inacio, PCAA Executive Director, by Minister Dale Jenkins of the Ministry of Education.
In the letter, Minister Jenkins said that the students graduating from PCAA Headstart are not prepared academically to enter first grade based on their evaluations of those students when they enter first grade.
“Therefore, we must teach the 6-year-old students the curriculum that they would normally receive in the Kindergarten program for 5-year-old children. This results in our students being at least a year behind the students in the rest of the world,” stated Dale.
“We hope to utilize the MOE Kindergarten curriculum in the 5-year-old Headstart program to enable the students to enter the MOE first grade at a level consistent with other school systems with a dedicated Kindergarten program.”
The letter states that in the communications between Minister Dale and PCAA on the matter, they were informed by PCAA that they cannot change the curriculum used for 5-year-old children as they were “not allowed by the terms of their grant” to change from what they were provided.
By creating a kindergarten in the Ministry of Education, it will surely impact the number of students at the PCAA Headstart, which requires a minimum of 500 students to continue.
Minister Dale mentioned an alternative for PCAA: to open their program for children aged 6 months to 3 years of age, a population that is currently underserved.
This would be a “win-win” according to Dale, as it will allow Palau to have a childcare system for 6-month- to 3-year-olds while allowing kids 5 to 6 years old to gain “an equal footing” with other students around the world.