Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) took a giant step towards quality and equity yesterday as a group of 20 educators and caregivers from ten constituencies in Khomas Region graduated from an intensive seven-week training course.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, in conjunction with the Khomas Regional Council, provided the training course.
Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Doreen Sioka said the programme is part of a roadmap that enables her ministry to produce implementable planned activities focused on improving early childhood development and education.
She said among the major needs identified was capacity-building of those who provide IECD services as a priority and the ministry has consequently developed the IECD curriculum as a guiding document for IECD caregivers in the provision of services to children in these centres.
“The time has come to expand the provision of IECD services throughout the country, with special emphasis on those in need,” Sioka said. She explained that the rationale for such training is to equip caregivers with relevant basic knowledge, understanding, skills, values and attitude required to prepare children for school and life challenges, and to perform tasks with due diligence.
“The IECD is the first step in education where young children on that level are being moulded for the education process. The training was one of many initiatives of the ministry to provide quality services for educators in all areas to ensure quality education for our young ones,” Sioka further said.
As educators are the ones responsible for nurturing the young generation she feels there is a need to ensure government cultivates responsible civil servants, who can take up leadership roles in a confident and responsible manner.
She said the goal of IECD is to make provision for sustainable and integrated family-and community-based IECD programmes, that are accessible to young children and their families with a special focus on the development of IECD programmes for young people living in difficult circumstances.
Governor of Khomas Region Laura McLeod-Katjirua said public awareness and community mobilisation should be enhanced, as all children need to be enrolled in schools, especially girls. She said capacity building should be supported and activities strengthened to improve the competence of teachers.
Capacity building is needed for teachers’ professional training, development and motivation and it is therefore necessary to provide more funds to the education sector for investment in adequate infrastructure and equipment.
“Access to pre-primary education for all Namibian children requires that we implement systems which will include the adopting of an integrated approach to poverty alleviation, taking cognisance of the cultural difference and the various occupational environments,” she said.
She also proposed that the hours of formal education be made more flexible to suit specific needs of various sectors of society, such as those of farmers and women, especially with regard to the provision of pre-primary education.
McLeod Katjirua said non-enrolment and poor school attendance were attributable to economic, social and cultural factors, such as poverty, long-distances from school, poor quality education, limited job opportunities and poor prospects for further education.