The Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare (MGEPESW) has urged parents and caregivers to engage with their little ones in play and stimulation activities and is looking into the possibility of developing home-based ECD programmes to strengthen the parents' ability to deliver the envisaged program at home so that children continue to be enthused.
The spokesperson in the ministry, Lukas Haufiku, said it is the belief that ECD learning and stimulation for children aged zero to four years should not stop but continue to be provided at home as well.
ECD programme covers children between zero to eight years, although in ECD term, the ministry is responsible for zero to four years while Ministry of education is responsible for those aged five to eight years old.
"Covid-19 has provided some opportunities to revisit some of the past initiatives such as the family visitors' programme, whose intention was to educate parents and caregivers on how to stimulate young children at home," he highlighted.
The country currently has about 3 032 Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centers, inclusive of community and privately-owned centres.
The ministry, therefore, encourages parents and caregivers to engage with their little ones in play and stimulation activities, and it is looking into the possibility of developing home-based ECD programmes to strengthen the parents' ability to deliver the envisaged program at home so that children continue to be stimulated during future man-made and or natural disasters or should the state of emergency continue to hamper face-to-face contact learning.
Haufiku said: "Parents need to be aware of this, especially during future man-made and or natural disasters or should the state of emergency continue to hamper face-to-face contact learning."
He was responding to questions raised by New Era on reasons ECD Centres are charging parents their usual rates despite parents not using the services. "The Ministry is aware of the adverse effect that Covid-19 has had on both parents, caregivers and ECD owned and managers alike in terms of income loses. Where parents can afford let them contribute and those that are unable we urge them to approach the centres' management to make the necessary arrangements," stated Haufiku.
He said: "The ministry is trying to fully understand the impact of Covid-19 on ECD sector; thus, it is currently undertaking a survey - and upon analysis of this data, an appropriate response will be provided."
Early childhood development, primary, secondary schools and vocational training providers were recently given directives to resume face-to-face medium of instruction with a daily screening of learners/students.
A further directive stipulated that any learner/student or staff displaying Covid-19 related symptoms should stay home and alert the school health authority. The school should immediately inform the local health authority for intervention.