By Constance Ndeleko
A child grows and develops not in a vacuum but in a community, a culture and a nation. Unity to the rights of children hold the greatest promise for children’s health and well-being and for that of their families and communities thus a communal need to promote Early Childhood Development (ECD).
Investing in early childhood care must be guided by the knowledge that communities are the best architects of successful initiatives that will champion for the well-being of their children solid growth and development even amidst a pandemic.
Young children are highly susceptible in times of shock because services to support them are often informal and outside of the system and risk being overlooked. Already scarce resources will likely be diverted to the pandemic response and there is a real risk that services to promote better ECD outcomes will be considered less urgent in the current environment.(World Bank)
Around the world, only about half of children are enrolled in preschool and in low-income countries it is just 21%. This is an enormous missed opportunity, given what we know about how important access to quality early learning can be to set young children on a brighter path to lifelong learning.(world Bank)
As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, young children will be especially vulnerable – so in addition to early childhood education, we need to ensure efforts to promote holistic early childhood development (ECD). (world Bank)
There’s an actual need to spread the gospel of ECD in our communities during this period of the pandemic to help protect the rights of children to good health as well as to protecting the future generation.
We can reach young children by supporting their parents and caregivers. The unique nature of the pandemic places parents as the first-line responders for children’s survival, care and learning.
World Banks states that, “efforts to reach young children need to begin by reaching parents with support, encouragement and practical, actionable ideas to support their children in this time of crisis. Even in the lowest-resource settings, in extreme deprivation, there are actions parents can take to protect and promote their children’s development.”
With lower recorded rates of immunization during this pandemic, it is important that we find alternative measures to ensure children get the vaccines they need and enlighten the society of its relevance even when they are scared to take their children to hospital.
All child related organization including governments should come up with inclusive interventions that will ensure the support of children’s future so that they don’t miss on this important phase of their life.
Encouraging the society to pick up on the already existing initiatives in the communities is paramount of the growth and development for the child. Parents/care givers should try their best to ensure children get their basic needs even during these unprecedented times.
According to UNESCO (2020), nearly 90% of the world’s student population-over 1.5 billion learners in 165 countries-have had their learning experiences disrupted by precautions and policies implemented to quell the spread of the disease.
Importance of ECD
- Early childhood is the most important phase in the overall development throughout a person’s lifespan.
- Brain development during the first few years of a life is greatly affected by an infant’s environment.
- Early experiences in a person’s life determine the health, education, and economic success later on in life.
- Children who are given the opportunities for proper childhood development have a better chance of not having to face these difficult obstacles in life. (WHO)
- ECD helps build community networks that can both expand the range of services when needed and respond to emergencies as they arise
- It steers the need to protect the infants from the permanent physical and intellectual stunting associated with malnutrition.
- It helps with immunizations and growth monitoring-as part of Pastoral, some developmental delays and disabilities are being prevented.
- It works as a vehicle for transmitting values, ECD can be a force for equality and tolerance. When ECD When ECD works with parents and communities to foster problem-solving over conflict and acceptance over intolerance, the groundwork is laid for children to live lives in ways that promote peace within families and societies.
Children are inherently vulnerable because they depend on adults to have their most basic needs met. When those adults lack the wherewithal to cope with the immediate, urgent, and multiple adaptive demands a pandemic places on families and when support systems do not exist, falter, or cease, it can result in unmitigated disaster for the very young.(PMC)
As concerning as these immediate and observable consequences of Covid-19 for young children are, even less is known about what the long-term effects may be.
“In early childhood you may lay the foundation of poverty or riches, industry of idleness, good or evil, by the habits to which you train your children. Teach them right habits then, and their future life is safe.”
–Lydia Sigourney (American poet)