Parliamentary Committee on Social Services and Welfare says it will lobby for increased allocation to early childhood development (ECD) in the 2020/21 annual budget.
Committee chairperson Savel Kafwafwa said the ECD sector needs K10 billion to boost childhood development in the country. In the 2019/2020 National Budget, ECD, through the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, was allocated only K800 million.
The decision to engage government on the matter comes after the Association of Early Childhood Development in Malawi (Acedm) dated parliamentarians on the challenges the sector is facing in the country.
Acedm executive director Archie Willie Malisita told parliamentarians that thousands of caregivers, who work on voluntary basis, are facing hardships. He called on government to consider giving them stipends as one way of motivating them.
He added that some of the 37 000 caregivers deployed across the country’s ECD facilities need to be trained to provide quality services.
Said Malisita: “Early child education in the country has been elitist from colonial times. ECD services do not reach many children, especially in rural areas. The infrastructure is not good and caregivers are not properly trained and remunerated.
“We are aware that without government’s intervention, the sector will not develop and as a country we will not be preparing our future generation for quality and productive life.”
On her part, Federation of Disability in Malawi (Fedoma) projects officer Ethel Kachala said there is need for stakeholders to consider allocating funds for procurement of assistive devices for physically-challenged children.
She added there are many children who are physically challenged in ECD facilities, but they lack support since they do not have materials to aid them when learning.
Kafwafwa said his committee will ensure that ECD receives adequate funding as previously estimated at K10 billion.
Prior to the campaign early last year, Acedm prepared a document which presidential aspirants were asked to sign as a commitment that they would support the ECD sector if elected.
Unicef has also called for the need for government to invest in ECD if education levels are to be lifted in the country.