Parents will contribute much to their children’s upbringing if they are to prioritise building families that provide a safe environment for their children to grow in.
Esperance Nyirasafari, the minister for gender and family promotion, said this during a symposium on the role of play and learning materials in early childhood development.
The symposium, in Kigali on Thursday, was organised by Umuhuza, a local NGO that promotes improved childhood development, in partnership with the ministry and UNICEF to advocate for the importance of playing materials in early childhood development.
It also aimed at stimulating and encouraging the private sector to venture in the production of play and learning materials and setting the ground for the elaboration with Early Childhood Development (ECD) toolkit for Rwanda made with local materials.
Nyirasafari urged parents to endeavour to create a safe environment where children can thrive.
“This is the first thing each parent should do, this way issues such as street children can be overcome. Some of the street children actually have parents but they flee homes because of issues like domestic violence,” she said.
ECD is an essential part for a child when growing up, this is why the government focuses on it, the minster pointed out.
“We believe that if we prepare children well enough whilst growing up, the future of the next generation is set to be bright.”
Mathilde Kayitesi, the executive secretary of Umuhuza, said the role of play in childhood development is invaluable and that every child deserves a chance to access it.
“A child learns when he or she plays and becomes happy. Just like food and sleep, a child needs to play for proper development, they learn how to live with others in harmony and it develops their minds because it enables them to think,” Kayitesi said.
“Parents, on the other hand, need to take this matter as crucial, this will help produce a well raised future generation of Rwandans.”
Ted Maly, the UNICEF country representative, said the timing of the event is very opportune as it is among the month-long celebrations leading to the Day of the African Child.
He said that due to the essence of play in the growth of children, various stakeholders should join hands in ensuring that play materials of good quality are available and accessible to Early Childhood Development centres, schools and families.
“Play materials must be accessible and affordable, every child has a right to play and through our collective efforts we can ensure that this right is fulfilled.
“We commend the Government of Rwanda for putting young children at the heart of the development agenda. UNICEF also commits to support the Government on this journey to ensure that every child in Rwanda has a very possible start in life,” Maly said.