UNICEF calls for child-friendly communication materials

A negative experience or absence of stimulation at an early age can have serious and sustained negative effects on the child, experts in early childhood development have said.

The remarks were made Monday during the opening of the a six-day workshop on innovative development communication for early childhood which engaged experts in early childhood development (ECD) and communication, academia, media, animators, illustrators, graphic designers, singers and people with disabilities to create age-appropriate and child-friendly content and materials in their respective fields.

The workshop was organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Rwanda, in partnership with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) and Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) and early childhood development professionals in Rwanda.

According to UNICEF Rwanda, ECD is an important area of focus. UNICEF continues to be the Government’s main partner for developing and implementing ECD programmes.

“Despite this commitment, there remains a lack of age-appropriate communication content and material for young children in Rwanda. This content, such as songs, illustrations, television and radio programmes, is critical for engaging children at a young age and encouraging early learning and discovery. Therefore, such a workshop came in to create pioneers of child friendly communications in various aspects,” said Dr Oliver Petrovic, UNICEF Rwanda Deputy Representative.

According to Dr Anita Asiimwe, the National Coordinator for Early Childhood Development, “Adequate stimulation in the early years of life is essential so children can achieve their full development potential. We are excited to see the materials and content produced as a result of this workshop.”

An important component of the workshop, and an ongoing priority of UNICEF programming, is promoting inclusiveness for children with disabilities. Children and adults with disabilities will participate in the workshop in all aspects, and sessions will be translated into sign language, and presentations given with closed captioning.

The workshop is part of the anniversary celebrations for Itetero, Rwanda’s first radio programme for and by children.

Arthur Asiimwe, the director-general of RBA, said Itetero will serve as an excellent example during this week’s workshop of the child-friendly content stakeholder and hopes to see more of the same in the future.

Evidence shows that 80 per cent of a child’s brain develops between the ages of 0 and 3 years. The Government of Rwanda have demonstrated commitment to ECD through a revision of the national ECD policy, and ECD has been prioritised in development plans like the National Strategy for Transformation.