By Elias Hakizimana.
Sarah Mutesi, the female master’s degree graduate has inaugurated an early childhood development center in Remera sector, in Rukiri one Village.
The center will be hosting up to 30 children from one year to six years old, benefiting from early learning services that allow them to progress with good performance once they join nursery and primary school.
“The children we receive benefit from integrated services including nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, health services and early learning of basic skills in Mathematics, English and French that help the child grow with early knowledge and skills among others,” Mutesi said.
The graduate hopes that the investment will benefit both her, parents and national in general saying that she has staff with experience in early child hood development.
According to National Early child hood Development Program (NECDP), the Early Childhood Development Centers provide services in learning, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation for better health to all children between 3 and six years old.
According to Diane Iradukunda, the early child protection specialist at the programme, only 13 per cent of children between 3 and 6 years old access to early learning and development services due to the limited number of the centers.
It is in this context that it urges private sector to also invest in the development so as to contribute to government efforts.
According to scientific evidence, 80 per cent of the child’s brain grows within the first three years.
It says any deficiencies in early learning, nutrition, social relationship at such stage could affect child’s health, physical, intellectual and social growth.
However, most of children are still lacking access to the early development support.
Iradukunda, said that some challenges are still limiting the access to early learning and development services in the country.
“Few early childhood development centers, lack of understanding about the role of the centers among the parents are still limiting children between 3 and 6 years old to access to early childhood development and learning services,” she said.
Iradukunda explained that the centers play role in fighting stunting among children as government targets to reduce stunting from the current 38 per cent to 15 per cent by 2020.
“So far we have only 4,109 early childhood development centers across the country which are still too few to serve all children between 3 and 6 years old. Only 250,000 children are accessing to ECD centers which represents only 13 per cent of all children who need the services. This requires joint efforts with other stakeholders so that we have at least one ECD center in every village of the country,” she said.
The target to have ECD center in every village is still far to reach, which means there is need of over 14, 837 centers considering that there are 14, 837 villages in the country yet only 4,109 centers are available today.
“While we have not yet met the target, we are urging people to resort to making home-based care on their own where some individuals take a home among the households living together and get support from children’s parents to organize basic care services to children before we set up ECD centers,” Iradukunda noted.
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