With a view of raising necessary resources to facilitate an Early Childhood Development (ECD) policy – a strategy that seeks to improve the lives of children between 0-8 years, various stakeholders are set to draw the policy’s strategic plan this month.
According to the Director General in the Ministry of Education, Erasme Rwanamiza, Rwanda is set to come up with the ECD policy in a bid to provide children with a good early start for life as a solid foundation for national development.
“A policy draft is already available and awaits cabinet approval. Once it (policy) is accompanied by a clear strategic plan then it will soon be passed and implemented.
This month stakeholders will meet and set a plan which will highlight major childhood needs that have often been ignored,” Rwanamiza told The New Times.
Among the issues to be included, he noted prenatal care, special needs of children between 0-3 years, nursery care, health care, education of parents on child growth needs and nutrition among others.
With regard to pre-primary education, the Director added that beginning this year, 0.2 percent (Rwf299 million) of the education budget has been allocated to this section out of the total Rwf139 billion adding that this is a sign that government is committed to its youngest population.
“Other organs that will also allocate some resources to ECD include the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and Ministry of Local Government among others.
“Child development issues are crosscutting and an integrated approach will be used to address these needs at a national level,” he added.
At a recent ECD conference that was held in Dakar, Senegal, economists, education planners, educational psychologists agreed that ECD is the foundation for enhancing learning, national progress and productivity.
“If this period is missed, then the full potentials of a whole generation are lost and later investments – for instance at primary, secondary or university levels – would have limited impact,” the UNESCO-BREDA Director, Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, recently warned.
Statistics from the 2009 Global Early Childhood Progress report show that 17.33 percent of the Rwandan population are children under five years, the crucial age which needs such services.