By Surihe Gaomas
With a growing problem of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in the capital, the City of Windhoek plans to improve the livelihoods of its children through an Early Childhood Development Policy.
Approval of the policy was given at the council’s monthly meeting last week Wednesday.
Currently, day care centres and kindergartens are registered under the City of Windhoek’s Business Registration Regulations Notice of 202/2006. And so far 70 such centres have been registered in Windhoek, while there are more than 200 day care centres or homes operating within the capital.
The registered ones are mostly from the formal areas of town.
However, with day care centres mushrooming and the absence of an early childhood policy it has been difficult to enforce operational quality and standards in the best interests of children.
Hence the need for an Early Childhood Development Policy, which was established after various workshops and a needs assessment were conducted in 2005.
Among the many objectives of the policy are to promote and facilitate the provision of early childhood care, education services and programmes, to facilitate the provision of basic services to centres that comply with set standards and regulations, and to promote the implementation of programmes aimed at child-care and readiness for school.
At the same time the policy will promote family involvement in support of child development and basic health, nutrition, security and safety programmes for children.
During a recent policy workshop with city councillors, it was agreed that this policy was long overdue.
With so many orphans and vulnerable children roaming the streets of the city, there is the need to stress early childhood care and education as the rights of every child.
Due to rapid urbanisation, many children under the age of six years are at risk because of their health and nutrition, and educational needs cannot be provided for adequately from the few resources within the community.
The City of Windhoek therefore recognised and accepted the importance of early childhood care and education through approving the policy, as it will play a vital role in upgrading the lives of disadvantaged city children, while at the same time eradicate poverty and social inequities.
The policy will therefore address a number of challenges like the lack of proper facilities for children, lack of adequate resources, lack of trained staff, as well as young orphans who have nowhere to turn to in terms of day care.