Machinga, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Navicha has urged parents and guardians with children with albinism to send them to early childhood development (ECD) centres. Speaking on Thursday at Mwamadi Model ECD Centre in Traditional Authority Nkula in Machinga as part of familiarization tour to establishments under her ministry, Navicha observed that most children with albinism were not attending lessons that are being offered in ECD centres, stressing that all children were allowed to access ECD lessons. We want children with albinism to interact freely with others. In doing so, children will be growing with a positive attitude towards each other and in the end issues of attacks, abductions and killings will no longer be there, Navicha said. Navicha said on its part government is doing everything possible to create a conducive environment for all children to easily access ECD services in the country. It is the policy of government that we should have model ECD centres at community level that should act as resource centres for several satellite community based centres to ensure that there is effective ECD service delivery, she added. Navicha, therefore, applauded people in the area for establishing Mwamadi ECD centre as a role model. However, she urged other communities to emulate the good example set by the centre. She said only 46 percent of children in Malawi have access to ECD services, a development she said government and its development partners needed to join hands in ensuring that ECD services were accessible to all children across the country. The minister also commended Machinga District Council for promoting the development of ECD services in the district, saying: Let us lobby for the allocation of Constituency Development Funds towards the construction of ECD centres especially in hard-to-reach areas. On this note, Navicha disclosed that government through her ministry would implement a project called ‘Investing in Early Years for Growth’ which would facilitate construction of 250 model ECD centres across the country. She also said the ministry would soon start motivating caregivers with monthly stipends, indicating that government has just signed an agreement with a Swiss Tennis Star Roger Federer on incentives for caregivers. For the first time in the history of the ministry, we will now be giving something to caregivers who are currently volunteering to teach our children in ECD centres, she added. Navicha, therefore, asked councils to motivate caregivers by among others, ensuring that they also benefit from social protection programs such as the social cash transfer, malata and farm inputs subsidies. District Commissioner for Machinga, Bester Mandere said increased cases of broken marriages were negatively affecting the development of the district, noting that traditionally when a marriage breaks up it is the woman who shoulders the responsibility of looking after children despite most of them having difficulties to access resources. Most households are female-headed such that it becomes difficult for them to send their children to school, Mandere said, adding that there are 523 community based childcare centres in Machinga where 39, 870 children have access to ECD services in the district.
Source: MANA Online