26 Mar 2014 13:50pm
WINDHOEK, 26 MAR (NAMPA) - The Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has called on all stakeholders in early childhood development (ECD) to educate parents to provide children with maximum support and a conducive environment to grow in.
Speaking at an ECD stakeholder seminar in Windhoek on Monday, Rosalia Nghidinwa said maximum support includes the provision of healthy and nutritious food, protection from diseases, stimulating children through providing love and care, and allowing children to play because they learn through playing and exploring.
Children who are malnourished and who grow up in violent environments may become slow learners, while the children of women who abuse alcohol may suffer from foetal alcohol syndrome. All these factors might cause psychological or learning problems, and children with learning problems have a low self-esteem.
On a more positive note, the minister said, children who are exposed to early stimulation such as being sung, read or talked-to early in life will have a greater chance to succeed in their later learning.
We know ECD is a critical period in the life of a child, and now we as a country need to take the necessary steps to see to it that all our children are protected, and given the opportunities they need.
If we fail to provide our children with a conducive environment in which to grow and develop, or if we fail to provide them with what they need to build a strong learning foundation for a healthy and productive life, then we should know that we are placing our future generations at great risk, said Nghidinwa.
ECD is recognised for the significant role it plays in the performance of children in their later learning as it prepares them to acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills, as well as contributing to reduced school drop-out and repetition rates.
Namibia has 2 000 ECD centres registered with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare for children aged up to four years.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Charles Kabajani, said on behalf of Education Minister David Namwandi that the education sector has made progress on the management of the delivery of ECD and the Pre-Primary Education (PPE) sub-sector since the implementation of the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP) in 2006.
Progress is also observed in terms of policy outputs.
The main policy outputs such as the ECD policy and the PPE framework are already in place.
A sustained increment in enrolment is observed, and special focus has been given to the pro-poor strategy to address equity issues. Existing data suggest an increment in the number of children in vulnerable conditions enrolling in ECD centres, and continuing into Grade One with the appropriate readiness for formal learning, Kabajani said.
However, the sub-sector continues to experience major challenges such as with regards to quality, an area which is lagging behind.
The seminar was aimed at discussing and deliberating on the critical area of early childhood development.