Blantyre — Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Dr. Jean Kalirani has said government will develop deliberate strategies aimed at increasing accessibility to early child development (ECD) services in the country.
Speaking on Monday during the launch of ECD week at Lunzu community centre ground in Blantyre, Dr. Kalirani said at least 45.3 per cent of the country's children have access to early education implying that about 54.7 were not reached out to.
To address the gap, Kalirani said among other efforts, government has adopted ECD policy that will guide implementation of the early child development activities across the country.
"Early years of child development are very important and realizing that, government has made efforts in raising the profile of ECD services. Outstanding among such efforts is the launch of the National ECD Policy whose implementation has improved the situation of children and that of caregivers," the minister observed.
She added: "Through the implementation of the ECD policy, the number of registered children in ECD centres has significantly increased from 30 per cent in 2008 to 45.3 per cent in 2017."
On the other hand, Kalirani pointed out that regulation of ECD services, training of caregivers and participation of traditional leaders at community level are some of the factors that have contributed to accessibility of ECD services in the country.
However, the minister said despite the programme registering successes, ECD activities are still facing some challenges which require concerted efforts from government as well as its development partners.
"If we have to continue posting positive results, we need to address some of the challenges such as poor and inadequate buildings for ECD learners and low profile of visibility of ECD that contributes to low level support for ECD interventions," she said.
This year's ECD week launch was celebrated under the theme: 'Accelerate accessible, quality and equitable ECD services for all children in Malawi.'
Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security who is also Member of Parliament for Blantyre North East, Cecilia Chazama, hailed government for showing commitment towards ECD services.
Chazama said since the programme started, a number of things have changed considering that children attending ECD education perform wonders when they are introduced into primary school.
"Early child education has assisted a lot of children who are now able to do things with speed and on top of that, it is inclusive, whereby every child has access to education," Chazama added.
While acknowledging the importance of ECD services, Senior Chief Kapeni appealed to government to consider finding means of motivating caregivers as they are doing a commendable job of educating children in ECD centres.
The chief also asked government to consider training more caregivers to accommodate those children who are not yet reached with the services, especially in hard-to-reach remote areas.
"We salute the president for the support he is giving to ECD centres and we would like to appeal that this programme should continue and reach out hard to reach areas," the Senior Chief urged.
Earlier in the day, Kalirani visited Mphatso Community Based Child Care Centre at Ngumbe in the area of Senior Chief Kapeni.