By Memory Chamisa
EARLY childhood learning has come under the spotlight as six Southern African countries met in Harare to deliberate on infrastructure development and financing ahead of the 42nd SADC summit to be held later this year.
Early childhood learning is the foundation of education for a pupil to be able to progress well to other grades.
This emerged during a meeting held in Harare this Thursday to lobby for a review of budget allocations towards early childhood learning by national coordinators and officials from six SADC nations in Harare.
Some of the officials, who toured schools in Harare, emphasised the need to prioritise ECD infrastructure for learners to have a conducive learning environment.
“Basically, our action comes based on the experiences that we have regarding proceeds of early childhood development services to children of SADC, example in Malawi were i come from the funding is very low and infrastructure for the little ones leaves a lot to be desired. we feel it is imperative that children have safe and conducive infrastructure environments that have all the standard requirements. With the road to SADC summit this year, we are saying that it is time that our leaders to avail more financing in ecd as when it comes to financing it is very low in my country alone in Lesotho it is less than one percent. so we trying to communicate with our leaders so that we have a down top approach from the usual top bottom since its us we see what is on the ground,” said Ms Joylet Genda – National Coordinator Early Childhood Development Coalition of Malawi.
Zimbabwe’s National Early Childhood Coordinator, Mr Naison Bhunu called for inclusion in lobbying for financing at the summit.
“We have identified steps and milestones, that need to be done and forwarded to the SADC council of ministers ahead of the SADC heads of summit since we cannot go there. ecd being the most important stage in a child’s education foundation it needs to be prioritised we want its financing to be included in the draft of the children’s SADC child protocol so that it becomes legal and binding for SADC nations to implement,” he said.
The government has since made notable strides towards enhancing the ECD learning environment, with many schools having constructed additional classroom blocks and playgrounds, while teaching colleges are now enrolling teachers for training to ensure the young ones are not left behind.