The Minister, Dr. Jean Kalilani has called upon organizations, communities and individuals to deliver quality IECD services to all young children both in the rural and urban areas. The Minister made the remarks during the launch of the 2017 National ECD Awareness Week at Lunzu Primary School Ground in Blantyre.
“Both (urban and rural)areas have children in need of ECD services. In this case, I encourage ECD implementing partners to target hard to reach areas with quality ECD services so that children can have the best start in life. Let me also urge development partners to invest heavily in ECD to improve delivery of children’s services through trainings, construction of standard ECD infrastructures, provide nutritious meals and stimulation materials to children,” She said.
The Minister also urged ECD implementers to take on board children with disabilities, infected and affected with HIV and AIDs, refugees, from poor families and on the streets.
“No child should be left behind nor discriminated based on race, sex, and minority group. All children have rights to enjoy and have rights to care, early learning, stimulation and protection,” she added.
The Minister added that through the implementation of the ECD Policy, the number of registered children in ECD Centres has increased significantly from 30 percent in 2008 to 45.3 percent in 2017. She said that the increase has been attributed to availability of the policy to regulate the work of ECD service, the training of caregivers and relatively participation and involvement of community leaders at community levels.
“This is a very positive development but we still have a long way to go. There are at least 54.7% of legible children who are not accessing early childhood development services. To target these, we need to address the challenges facing the delivery of quality and inclusive IECD services that include: Low access to ECD services by Children due to very few delivery points; the majority of ECD service providers are the Community Based Child Care (CBCCs) Centres that are mostly found in the rural areas. There are about 11,600 centres and 36,000 households reached with parenting education that are providing services to some 1,600,000 children across the country,” she added.
The Minister also acknowledged the role that caregivers play in moulding children in ECD facilities. She said that government appreciates the role of caregivers, most of who provide voluntary services in their communities.
“I will fail my duty if I do not recognise the role of the caregivers and all other volunteers working with children in ECD centers. My Ministry appreciates the job you are doing in the centers in shaping and preparing our children for primary school and lifelong learning as demonstrated and observed in the displays. Keep it up,” she stated.
The theme of the 2017 National ECD Awareness Week was accelerate accessible, quality and equitable ECD services for all children, Which calls for inclusive ECD service delivery to all children in Malawi.
As part of the commemoration, Kalilani and the Minister for Home Affairs and Internal Security, Cecelia Chazama visited Mphatso CBCC and donated various items to the centre. Kazama also spoke about the importance of ECD in the country. She thanked the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare for ensuring that ECD services are prioritised in the country.
The event was also graced with the presence of representatives from UNICEF, Action Aid, Save the Children Malawi and World Vison Malawi among others.