Unicef Rwanda and IHS Rwanda, a telecommunication infrastructure provider have agreed to collaborate in increasing access to Early Childhood and Development (ECD) by building additional centres in the Nyagatare and Gicumbi districts. This follows a $120,000 (approximately Rwf120m) donation IHS Rwanda to Unicef to help expand the provision of ECD services in the two districts. The funding will be utilized to create two ECD centers, one in each district, as well as provide indoor and outdoor learning materials that are in line with Rwandas national ECD centre standards. These facilities will serve children under the age of six before they proceed to primary school. The establishment of the two ECD centres will help give a good foundation to the children in their academic journey, according to officials. Each centre will be located near a primary school and will rely on the national ECD curriculum to guide quality learning. They will both be accessible free of charge. Each ECD centre will comprise two classrooms/stimulation rooms, a kitchen, a feeding shelter, child-friendly restrooms, a caregivers office, a fence, and water storage tanks, according to information from the two institutions. Each classroom will be able to accommodate 40 children, meaning that each center will host a total of 80 children, equating to an annual ECD provision for 160 children. The two districts were recommended by the National Child Development Agency, (NCD Agency), due to the limited availability of ECD services, and the need to create a safe and stimulating environment for children of market traders within these areas. The NCD Agency, with the assistance of Unicef, will also train and help in the capacity building of local caregivers who will work in the two centres. Unicef has committed to support the Rwandan governments goal of increasing access to ECD services by 40% by 2024. So far, just 25% of Rwandan children have access to ECD services, stated Julianna Lindsey, UNICEFs Representative in Rwanda. “Failure to invest in children in their early years can have irreversible consequences on their opportunities in later life. We are grateful to IHS Rwanda for this generous contribution, which takes us closer to attaining our goal of ensuring that all children in Rwanda – whether they live in rural or urban areas and regardless of the economic status of their families – have equal access to ECD services,” she said. Kunle Iluyemi, IHS Rwanda Managing Director said that this gesture was guided by their appreciation of the work done by government and its partners like Unicef to scale up ECDs in the country. “Early education is of paramount importance as it gives children the best start in life. We are committed to supporting access to equal education, and the development of these early childhood development centers is crucial to that equality,” he said. UNICEF has so far actively supported the establishment of ECD centres in 21 districts across the country, and IHS Rwanda chose to cooperate with them on this project in acknowledgment of that expertise. The local community was urged to play a vital role in the establishment and daily running of the ECD centers.