In its attempt to make preschool free for Bahamians, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the government will provide annual vouchers of $2,000 for students to attend private preschools.
“We have already launched a major preschool initiative that will continue to expand throughout the country,” Minnis said on Friday.
“To expand this initiative, the Ministry of Education will partner with approved private preschools through a voucher program for 500 to 1,000 spots annually. Upon application to the universal preschool program, applicants will first be directed to government-operated schools.”
The prime minister continued, “Once all of the spaces in government-operated public preschools are taken, we will provide vouchers for students to attend a private preschool that has met national standards and that has been approved by the government.
“The voucher will be worth approximately $2,000 per year and will be paid directly to the selected private preschool to cover tuition and learning supplies for the preschooler.”
Minnis said the government is providing $1 million through the Small Business Development Centre and the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund for the development of preschools.
He said the funding will support equity and loans up to $150,000 to educational institutions that qualify and offer preschool educations.
The prime minister said these institutions must be participants in the Ministry of Education’s universal preschool program.
“These sums will provide private preschools operators the means to expand their facilities [and] to meet the demand for preschool seats that will be created by this program,” Minnis said.
“We will also promote access to Crown land for the development of preschools. This is especially important for our Family Islands where education entrepreneurs, who meet the requirements and standards of the Minister of Education, will be able to build preschools duty free.”