KEETMANSHOOP – The Deputy Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Lucia Witbooi says all stakeholders need to invest more in Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres to improve the quality of education in the early years of Namibian children.
Speaking at Keetmanshoop, where she officially handed over and inaugurated the New Dawn ECD Centre, Witbooi said early childhood investments have the potential to yield great returns for the family and for the child as an individual, noting that research has shown the first eight years of child development, noting that days from birth to two year are critical in the life of a child especially for health, nutrition, early stimulation and school readiness.
“It is important for a nation to invest in ECD for children at an early stage because it has long lasting impacts in cognitive development and it has been evidenced that ECD contributes to reduction in teenage pregnancies, violence and drug abuse,” stated Witbooi.
She added that it is widely acknowledged that children who have gone through ECD programmes tend to perform better at school than their peers who have not, and that their ability to attain their full potential after they have acquired tertiary education is directly related to the complimentary effects of good health, care, stimulation and development found at ECD centres. Witbooi thus said for each Namibian child to have a good start, ECD centres are required to be supported with sufficient materials and equipment, as well as skilled personnel, saying proper training for ECD caregivers is one of the main factors in ensuring sufficient quality in ECD programmes, and that it is up to everyone to contribute to the success of such programmes.
“ECD is each and everyone’s responsibility and it’s cross cutting amongst ministries, and therefore the government, private sector, communities and parents should equally play an important role to invest in the development of the Namibian child,” stressed the deputy minister.
She further called on everyone to go back to the norm where a child was raised up not only by the parents but the extended family and community or village at large, saying educating the Namibian child should equally not be left to educators alone.
The centre consists of four large classrooms, storage facilities, playing field and kitchen, was constructed by the Anglo American Foundation for N$1.2 million, with the land availed by the Keetmanshoop municipality for free.
It has the capacity to enroll 100 learners although only 60 are enrolled for now.