Children’s Welfare Must Override Profits – Muharukua

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By Staff Reporter

WINDHOEK

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has urged early childhood development (ECD) administrators and caregivers to look at the interest of children as opposed to financial gains.

Deputy Minister Angelika Muharukua told the National Assembly recently ECD administrators should not focus on financial gains they make based on the number of children enrolled at their kindergartens.

Muharukua was reacting to remarks raised in the house on the loss of income resulting from the transfer of children from kindergartens to pre-primary education institutions.

Muharukua said even if the children remained in kindergartens, they would still in a year or two proceed to Grade 1, which resorts under general education of the Ministry of Education.

Early child development is a sub-programme of the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP), whose advocacy campaign was launched recently.

The campaign will disseminate information and educate the public on the programme and explain the transfer of children aged between five and six to the Ministry of Education.

Other questions raised in Parliament included whether the Government would take over established kindergartens, uniformity in terms of community funding of ECD services and the timeframe for kindergartens to adhere to prescribed regulations and standards.

Muharukua said the revised ECD policy stipulates that children aged five and six years will be transferred to pre-primary education, which “does not mean that the Government will take over kindergartens, neither their teachers nor their buildings”.

“The idea of Government committing itself to assume responsibility of pre-primary education is based on the positive impact of pre-primary education to the lifelong learning of any child,” she said, adding that it was important for the Government to provide children with what is necessary to build a strong foundation for the children to succeed in school and grow into productive, healthy and useful citizens.

However, the deputy minister said no time frame was set for kindergartens to adhere to set standards and regulations because this would depend on what is outstanding for them to meet the required standards.

“Obviously, it will take longer to meet safety requirements in order to meet the prescribed standards in the latter as opposed to the first case; therefore, the time frame for a kindergarten to meet the required standard depends on what it needs and Government cannot attach a time frame on that,” she added.

The revised Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy serves as the legal instrument to guide the management and delivery of ECD programmes in the country. The first cross-sectoral National ECD Policy was approved by Cabinet in 1996.

It was then revised to take into account other existing national policies, plans and programmes that have an impact on early childhood development and also to allow for the transfer of children aged five to six years from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare to education, in line with ETSIP provisions.

The review of the first ECD Policy was approved by Cabinet in 2006.

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