Lahja Nashuuta Windhoek-The First Lady, Monica Geingos, has urged the ministry of education to change its budgeting model by allocating more resources towards Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes to ensure that no Namibian child is left behind. Addressing the national Integrated Early Childhood Development Conference yesterday, Geingos expressed concern over the funding imbalances within the ministry saying the two percent of the total budget allocated to ECD is not sufficient to expand the programme coverage as well as to tackle the challenges that ECD faces. Representatives from the education sector, civil organisations and international organisations gathered at the NamPower Convention Centre the three-day conference. “We need to prioritise the education budget to fit our needs. The main challenge in the education sector is with early childhood development, which is the foundation and that’s where we need to focus our resources. The moment we have a strong foundation, it will be easier for the transition from primary education to secondary education and to tertiary education,” she said. She said the challenges facing formal education such as higher dropout, teenage pregnancies and higher failures as well as gender-based violence and other social ills can only be overcome if the country allows young people a perfect start to life. The Ministry of Education Arts and Culture in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare as well as the Ministry of Health and Social services and development partners are meeting in Windhoek to map out strategies to promote early childhood development in the country. Speaking at the same event, the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, acknowledged the significance of investing in early childhood development, saying although it was rewarding to create a society that is healthier and more equitable, investment in early childhood development remains insufficient. Hanse-Himarwa revealed that the ministry has been prioritising pre-primary education for the past year. She said in 2017, N$52 million was allocated proportionally to all the regions towards the expansion of access to pre-primary education. In addition, close to N$2 million was allocated for resources, and teaching and learning support materials for special schools. However, in order to ensure a smooth transition from ECD to pre-primary and Grade 1, more still needs to be done to ensure that no children are left behind. “We need to close the gap in our service provision with respect to quality and access. While the access expanded from 17 000 in 2011/2012 to more than 40 000, more effort is still needed for the country to meet its 80 percent target by 2022,” she stated. In order to achieve the target, Hanse-Himarwa called on the private sector and international development partners to come on board, as government cannot achieve such a goal on its own.
New Era Reporter
2018-02-20 09:00:37 8 months ago