A‘caregiver’ in the context of an early childhood centre plays the role of a child’s first teacher before they are introduced to the education system.
It is through this role that they assist and support the child’s cognitive, emotional, physical and social development.
Many have embraced this role, something that obviously has an impact in terms of what this means for the education sector.
According to the 2018 statistical year book from the ministry of education, the education sector recorded an increase of caregivers in pre-nursery centres from 243 staff in the year 2017 to 262 last year with only 17.9% as the male portion, making the rest 82.1% female caregivers.
But how do they contribute to the nurturing of a child’s academic journey?
Cherish Nkurunziza, a nursery teacher and pre- nursery care giver at Kigali City School, believes that people should first understand who a care giver is, arguing that it is then that they will know their significance.
She explains a caregiver as a person who is responsible for the daily care and support of young children. Such a person, she says is usually close and attached to the child they care for.
She points out that when young children are introduced to a school system, they need a facilitator to help them adjust to such an environment away from home.
“This module speaks to teachers and other school staff who understand that engaging the whole school is key to building a safe and inclusive school culture, a fundamental prerequisite to the students’ learning and wellbeing,” she reiterates.
Nkurunziza also highlights that caregivers influence the fabric of daily life of young children.
She believes that it is essential for children to pass through the hands of caregivers before they enrol in school.
“If this is not done, a child will be thrown out into the school environment and thrust into connection with all of its multi-faceted diversity and a larger world with a diverse range of mates. Facing all of this at once can be complex,” she says.
For the role of caregivers to create a sounding impact, Diannah Uwonkunda, a nursery teacher at Excella primary school, believes that parents should work hand in hand with the caregivers of their children.
This she says helps children to find it easy to adapt to other institutions that convenes many people.
“When parents participate in efforts to nurture their children academically it creates a ripple effect, reflecting the outcomes. Ideally, parents can serve to reinforce some core values and attitudes that are an antidote to rendering their children to caregivers,” she says.
“With their caring, compassion, courage and respect, their endorsement of such values and attitudes, in theory and in practice fosters coherence in students’ lives by building a bridge between home and school,” she narrates.
Maurice Twahirwa, teacher at APADET primary school emphasises that the caregivers’ policy should be a team work approach.
He says that this should be something parents take part in, not simply taking their children at school and deprive them of parental care.
Conversely, caregivers should be commended for their selfless service that they give to children for they play a big part in setting the right platform for a student’s performance in the long run, Twahirwa adds.