GAINACHAS – Investing in early childhood development has the potential to yield great returns for the family and the child as an individual. This is according to gender equality and child welfare deputy minister Lucia Witbooi, who recently made the remarks while officiating at the Gainachas early childhood development centre (ECD) in the Berseba constituency of //Kharas region.
According to Witbooi, aspects of health, nutrition, child protection, early stimulation and school readiness are normally of vital importance in this stage of a child’s life. She also said it has been proven that children going through early childhood development programmes are more able to attain their full potential. “They tend to perform better at school than their peers who have not,” she elaborated.
“The government, private sector, communities and parents should equally play an important role to lead and invest in the development of the Namibian child.” When referring to prerequisites that can guarantee quality ECD, she mentioned proper infrastructure and skilled, trained educators who can take proper care of these toddlers.
“Children who are exposed to good ECD services are less likely to repeat grades, are more likely to reach tertiary levels of education and are most likely to secure high paying jobs,” said the politician. She further emphasised the importance of ensuring children receive ECD training in a safe, appropriate and conducive environment.
Witbooi then urged other stakeholders to follow the good example of the Anglo American Namibian Foundation when renovating and upgrading the Gainachas ECD centre. “We must all do our part to ensure our children receive the best support and care so that they are ready when they enter pre-primary and primary school,” she explained.
The deputy minister also said her ministry has developed an Integrated Early Childhood Development Strategic Framework in collaboration with the education and health ministries to ensure the desirable services are given to every Namibian child. She expressed her utmost gratitude towards the Anglo American Namibian Foundation for supporting interventions aimed at ensuring the best start for every child in Namibian.
The Gainachas ECD centre was renovated by Anglo American Foundation at a cost of N$470 000. The project now makes provision for a two-classroom centre, including a playground, kitchen, veranda and stoop, as well as an ablution block. Trainers at the facility have completed a seven-week curriculum training programme. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare is subsidising 80 ECD centres in the region. “Children should not be left alone unattended, but rather be enrolled at ECD centres,” Witbooi concluded.