ECD critical for child development

Review and Mail Writer

The benefits of Early Child Development (ECD) for children underscore a need for investment in the initiative through interventions by various stakeholders, UNICEF has revealed.

Titled ‘Why do Early Moments Matter?’ the 10 point summarisation of answers and questions pertaining ECD proves that it “offers a critical window of opportunity to shape a child’s development trajectory and build a foundation for the future.”

Since 2004, Zimbabwe has a national ECD policy which requires primary schools to offer a minimum of two ECD classes for children from 3 to 5 years old.

UNICEF says adopting this initiative is crucial as this develops a child’s skills leading to economic contribution in human capital.

“Children enrolled in at least one year of early education are more likely to develop the essential skills they need to succeed in school, less likely to repeat grades or drop out of school, and therefore more able to contribute to peaceful and prosperous societies and economies when they reach adulthood,” it says.

Breastfeeding supersedes other crucial interventions regarding a child’s cognitive development reveals UNICEF.

“Breast milk is the only food a baby needs for the first six months. It ensures good physical growth and cognitive development of the child; helps prevent malnutrition; provides immunity and protects young children against infections and childhood illnesses; and is readily available, safe, and does not cost anything.”

However the role of family, government and the private sector in ECD promotion is also important in ECD promotion.

“Promoting children’s optimal development needs coordinated efforts across health, nutrition, education, child protection and social protection systems, public financing and beyond.

“Early Childhood Development includes many interventions, including support to parents and caregivers, exclusive breastfeeding, early learning and creating an enabling environment through government initiatives and the engagement of the private sector.”

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