Parents urged to give their matchless child development support


Dr Malope addressing delegates on Friday

Dr Mmantsetsa Marope – who is Unesco’s director for basic learning and skills development – said she firmly believes that the best providers of early childhood care are parents and grandparents yet all too often parents tend to “undervalue” themselves and their role as educators.

She was speaking at the second day of the biennial conference on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) held at the International Conference Centre.
“Institutions can never take the place of the home,” said Dr Marope.

“Some parents nowadays seem to think you can outsource parenting itself, and they don’t realise that parental love is something that can never be substituted. So we need to ask ourselves how we can spend more meaningful time with our children.”

Parents should spend more quality time with their young children

She noted although teachers and caregivers at crèches and other ECCE-based institutions can give children what she termed “generalised love”, this type of guidance was not as meaningful to a child as parental love. She also said it was very important to educate and encourage fathers and grandfathers about the importance of being positive and involved “father figures” to young children.

Her presentation covered Unesco’s ongoing efforts to coordinate and implement the Holistic Early Childhood Development Index (HECDI) to measure child well-being and happiness throughout the world, and will cover six core indicators for pre-school children: health, nutrition, education, parental support, equity and social protection, and poverty alleviation.

Dr Marope said the development of a single index was imperative as the current methods of monitoring create what she called a “non-existent average child”.
“It’s like we’re taking all the kids, putting them in a blender, blending them together and creating one child, and this child has imunisation, nutrition and everything else. But the reality is that if one aspect of ECCE service is missing for one specific child, he or she may not be holistically facilitated to develop,” she said.
“This is a network of services where one weakness in the net can pull the whole net down.”

Unesco is now planning the pilot phase to implement HECDI, which will involve working closely with 10 countries to use the proposed indicators to holistically assess early childhood development.
Dr Marope said that although Seychelles’ national action plan on ECCE was “well-aligned” to compile the data required as a member country, there are some large gaps in data collection for the composite elements of the index.

“I want to believe it’s a problem with relaying the data, not that the data doesn’t exist,” she said.

The chief executive of Seychelles’ Institute of Early Childhood Development (IECD), Shirley Choppy, said over R13 million is needed over the next two years to implement the IECD’s national action plan to implement the key priorities of the ECCE framework.

It is expected that the action plan will harmonise laws, regulations and policies, implement quality programmes and curriculums, improve the recording of data, provide adequate funding and resources, create competent professionals in the field and increase access to ECCE for children from 0-3 years of age.

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