Early Childhood Development begins here and now

Isaac Chikosi

Early Childhood Development has been a topic of much discussion over the years. How-ever, a little more scrutiny is necessary at a localised scale.
When considering early childhood development in Swakopmund, the state of our Day Care Centres is a great starting point. According to the Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare, there are about 90 registered day-care centres in Swakopmund alone. It is evident that the formative years of our children are indeed the most important as they shape tomorrow’s citizens. But what is it that really makes the difference?
According to Dr David Harrison, “The answer doesn’t only lie in realigning public expenditure, but in growing the simple building blocks of food, love, security and stimulation.” This means that parental involvement is not only beneficial but also an integral ingredient.
A well-known educator who resides in Swakopmund had this to say, “A child who is not well look-ed after and developed in his first years of life, is more than likely a future failure. Nothing will fix that problem – not all the extra lessons or last-minute high school initiatives will save that child. This is a simple truth that parents need to recognise if they have hopes and plans for their children. The responsibility is on their shoulders completely.” According to her, “the prime educator is always the parent, not the teachers.”
In a day and age where more responsibility is placed on teachers and educators, the focus is often lost, and parents are left out of the equation.
According to a UNICEF report, 87% of children aged 0 – 4 do not attend integrated Early Childhood Development programmes with 14% of the population being accounted for by children under the age of 5. In addition, the report further states, “Evidence shows that regions with the lowest coverage of early childhood development (ECD) services, such as Kunene, Kavango and Omaheke region, are not only the poorest performers in standardised achievement tests but also have the most over-aged learners in the school system, the highest dropout rates and the highest poverty rates.
Kindergartens such as Little House of Hope and Smiley Kids are both situated in Mondesa and cater to kids from different walks of life. These centres provide meals for their learners. These meals include snacks, fruit and juice with others offering cooked meals as well. However, not all kindergartens can offer complete care.
“Accordingly, Integrated ECD services are extremely limited in Namibia, especially in rural areas. Where they do exist, they are usually centre based and run primarily by the community or private individuals with little or no government funding and weak links, if any, with education, health and nutrition programmes.”
This is the case in some areas of Mondesa and the informal DRC settlement where individuals take on the task of handling Namibia’s next generation. Whether driven by passion for children or the tough economic climate, numerous Day care centres have emerged across the town. Space and ablution facilities stick out as a major issue, with some of the kids attending these centres coming from financially disadvantaged homes, sometimes on an empty stomach. In addition, in some cases the care givers are limited to one dialect having little or no qualification at all which results in a flimsy program that simply keeps the kids busy with no real effort to teach skills necessary at this phase.
In retrospect, when sending your child to a Day Care centre, there are a few things to consider.
For kindergartens or Day Care centres operating in households, dangers can be anywhere. From medicines that can be accidentally consumed, water holes, household chemicals and more. Children need more than just to be kept busy. They need love, stimulation and constructive play. Sadly, many learning problems and issues are noticed much later in the child’s academic career when they could have been dealt with earlier.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login