Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare under-secretary Austin Luhanga has called on the private sector to adopt and support early childhood development (ECD) centres to make quality services accessible to all children.
He said this on Friday in Blantyre at a business dinner attended by the Association of Early Childhood Development in Malawi (AECDM) and private sector players under Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI).
Luhanga said the adoption process is meant to focus on the private sector’s commitment to the rights of children in the country and consolidate government’s efforts in addressing the obstacles for realising the rights.
“The early years of life are crucial because the first eight years are important to the child’s development.
“As the child grows, the family, peers, social patterns and attitudes influence him or her. When well nurtured and cared for in their earliest years, children are more likely going to survive, grow in a healthy way, have less disease and fewer illnesses and fully develop their thinking, language, emotional and social skills,” he said.
AECDM executive director Archie Malisita said transition in the country’s education sector starts in primary school.
He said there are about 3.5 million under-five children who require ECD services, but only 44 percent are reached.
“We have about 35 000 caregivers and only 16 101 of them are trained, meaning that over half of the caregivers we have are not trained. And for the ones that are trained, they usually leave the job for greener pastures after staying for a year or two because they work on voluntary basis,” he said.
MCCCI chief operating officer Chimwemwe Luhanga said the private sector will start paying attention to ECD in their corporate social responsibility.
ECD centres include community-based child care centres, private kindergartens and transitional services. n