Early childhood development (ECD) is the foundation for sustainable development. Giving every child, no matter where they live, the best start in life is the best way to ensure healthy and prosperous individuals, communities and countries. ARNEC celebrates the inclusion of ECD in the global development agenda. ARNEC believes that ECD cannot be isolated from the rest of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). It is central to achieving the SDGs. In the words of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “The Sustainable Development Goals recognise that early childhood development can help drive the transformation we hope to achieve over the next 15 years.” ARNEC has produced this brief to inform members of the possibilities offered by the new global agenda to improve the lives of young children and their families across the region. It will be the first in a series of briefs that will provide further information and guidance for members about how to ensure that the new goals deliver for all children.
Rationale for Integrated and Life Cycle Approach to ECCD
Survival, growth and development of the child depend on quality of care and provisions available for health, nutrition and also early learning. The development of the child being a continuous and cumulative process is divided into sub-stages with specific needs and requirements that are a prerequisite for the next stage. Thus, it becomes imperative to proactively address the needs of each sub-stage to prevent accumulation of deficit of one stage onto the next,, affecting the pace of development, in the later years.
Development having several interrelated dimensions -physical, cognitive, social and emotional, calls for integrated and life cycle approach that responds best to multiple needs of children at various stages. As the pace of development of children can vary from one child to another even at the same age, particular attention needs to be paid to ensuring a smooth transition between the home to ECCD programmes and to primary school, that ensures the continuation of an integrated approach to supporting children of six to eight years of age. Th early grades of primary education should thus be consciously programmed to respond to the multiple development needs of young children rather than trying to fit them to the typically uniform formal education system. The success of children in subsequen years of learning and development of their full potential depends largely on how strongly the holistic foundations were built during the early grades of primary education. Thus, a synergistic approach to health, nutritional wellbeing and psycho-social development is stratgeic for ensuring optimal and holistic development from prenatal period to eight years of age.
This series of six booklets have been prepared by the Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC), with the objective of highlighting regional trends and issues specific and unique to the Asia-Pacific region for promoting and strengthening Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) policies and practices.
Additionally, the booklets highlights a need for particular advocacy within the Asia-Pacific region by introducing few key advocacy messages that are evidence-based, regionally contextualised and prioritised based on diverse sources of information.
The Rights of Children
General Comment (GC) 7 of the Convention on the RIghts of the Child (CRC) affirms the right of the young child to be an active and engaged particpant in routines of daily life. In addition, the CRC requires that “children, including the very youngest children, be respect as persons in their own right. Young children should be recognized as active members of familieis, communities and societies, with their own concerns, interests and points of view, for the exercise of their rights, young children have particular requirements for physical nurturance, emotional care and sensitive guidance, as well as for time and space for social play, exploration and learning” (GC 7 on the CRC, 2006).
Evidence indicates that cognitive and social development is directly influenced by the quality of care provided to the young child during the prenatal period and the early years. This includes play-based, exploratory activities for children’s optimal development.
High quality ECCD is also linked with better earnings, robust national economic growth, and generally well informed individuals (UNESCO, 2005).
High quality ECCD porgrammes recognise and accord professional status to ECCD workers and professionals. In addition, these programmes can supplement home-based care and meet nutrition, health and psycho-social needs of children during sensitive and vulnerable periods and specifically benefit the disadvantaged and marginalized (UNESCO, 2007).
The Role of the Family in the Young Child’s Development
A child’s first contact with the world is typically through adult caregivers in the family. Their interactions with these adult caregivers and the home environment impact the young child’s brain structure and emotional, social and physical development (Iltus, 2006)
Hands to Hearts International (HHI) was founded on the premise that all parents want to and are capable of providing the most essential components of healthy child development through caring relationships and nurturing daily interactions. Steeped in this evidence, the curriculum and training of Hands to Hearts International are replicable, cost effective tolls that provide education in ECCD, psycho-stimulation, hygiene, play and baby massage to mothers and caregivers of the children of the world. (Hudson, 2009)
Caregiver support and eucation programmes can equip them with information on caring and stimulation for children to help children reach their optimal potential (UNESCO, 2006a).
The Philippines ECCD Law, enacted in 2000, affirms parents as primary caregivers and the child’s first teachers (UNESCO, 2006). The Parent Effectiveness Service (PES) implemented by the government provides support to all caregivers especially from low-income groups. The programme includes parent sessions, home-based training, neighbourhood assemblies, live radio programmes and manuals. A special focus on fathers is an essential part of the model (Rao & Sun, 2010).
As part of a pilot study to provide “easy to do” packages at home, a study in Indonesia provided a unique way of providing integrated child development services through the health sector. Popularly known as the “Tanjungsasri Model”, the pilot is a posyandu (integrated service centre)-based service delivery model that provides health, nutrition and early stimulation for mothers are delivered through the puskemas (local health centres. Data indicated a small but significant increase in enrolments of children. In addition, “evaluators of the project also found that children attending the Taman Posyandu had greater school readiness than children not attending”.Dowload pdf- ECCD Begins at Home: Caring for Children in a Nurturing and Stimulating Environment
Inclusion in ECCD
Inclusion is about everyone. Inclusive ECCD therefore requires valuing and respecting the unique needs of every child, regardless of his/her ethnicity, abilities, gender, language, health and well-being, socio-economic status, the location in which they live or exposure to emergency or disaster situations.
Social inclusion can be defined as belonging and membership at an interpersonal and collective level (Phillips & Berman, 2003) or the extent to which people have access to institutions and social relations (Monnickendam & Berman, 2008). For young children it can therefore be argued that inclusion involves belonging and having access to ECCD services.