MPs and NGO calls for prioritisation of ECD

PHALOMBE: Parliamentary Committee on Social and Community Affairs has raised concerns over the government’s partial prioritization of early childhood development initiatives in the country.

Chairperson for the committee, Richard Chimwendo Banda expressed the concern on Tuesday during a monitoring and evaluation visit at one of Action Aid’s model Community Based Childcare Centres constructed in Group Village Mankhanamba in T/A Kaduya in Phalombe.

Speaking in an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana), Banda said government has been prioritizing other areas such as primary school education and adult literacy at the expense of early childhood development (ECD) despite the latter being the basic foundation for education.

Primary school education is compulsory by the laws of Malawi, but ECD where we expect to mould children and instill interest for primary school has never been given due attention, Banda said.

He observed that while government continues to implement a feeding programme to primary schools, ECD has never been incorporated in the programmes despite being known as Mkombaphala or M’mera Mpoyamba.

Banda added that the major challenge was that there was no motivation to attract child caregivers to work hard in preparing children for formal education as compared to adult literacy instructors who are well remunerated.

Executive Director for Action Aid, Grace Malera echoed the call on government to put more effort in funding ECD services in the country, saying the current situation where non-governmental organizations complementing government were contributing more than the government itself which she said was not ideal.

We understand that government does not get enough resources all the time, but we still think the issue revolves around prioritisation. We have constructed this K23 million ECD centre to set the standard, we expect government to support such initiatives, Malera added.

Deputy Head Caregiver at Mankhanamba CBCC, Timothy Kanyoza hailed Action Aid for the facility which was serving over 200 children from the village and surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, Action Aid has constructed 80 model ECD centres countrywide where at least 150, 000 children are reported to be accessing ECD services.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA