UNICEF is set to expand its early childhood development (ECD) programmes in Rwanda following a new grant worth over €3.5 million from the IKEA Foundation.
The grant will go towards supporting the Government and civil society organisations to improve the welfare of children.
"This grant from the IKEA Foundation will allow significant expansion of early childhood initiatives in Rwanda. In addition to expanding access to pre-primary education, programmes will include parenting sessions for caregivers, and improved nutrition and child protection services, allowing over 40,000 Rwandan children to have happier, healthier childhoods," said Ted Maly, UNICEF Rwanda Representative.
Despite progress in primary education, access to pre-primary school and ECD services is still low. According to the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey 2014-2015, only 13 per cent of children between 3-6 years attend an organised ECD programmes.
"Evidence shows that 80% of a child's brain develops between 0 to 3 years of age. Children need adequate care and stimulation in the early years so they don't lose their development potential later in life. The Government of Rwanda has put words into action through investment in concrete ECD programmes, such as centre- and home-based child care, home visit, and early literacy," Maly said.
Speaking about the new funding, Vivek Singh, Programme Manager for the IKEA Foundation said, "We believe that all children have the right to a healthy start in life and a quality education, which starts with development in their early years. This is why we are supporting UNICEF."
Cabinet recently endorsed the revised National ECD Policy fostering a coordinated and integrated approach. Early childhood development has also been prioritised in development plans like the National Strategy for Transformation.