Kigali, 19 April 2012: At the opening of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) National Stakeholders Meeting, the guest of honour and First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda, Her Excellency Jeannette Kagame, emphasised the importance of investing in Early Childhood Development Programmes for Rwanda’s overall development. “Early Childhood Development interventions are among the most cost-effective investments a country can make in the human development and capital formation of its people, and its impact in economically disadvantaged communities can be transformational,” the First Lady said. “Therefore, giving children the best possible start in life is one of the best investments Rwanda can make for its present priorities,” she explained. The First Lady’s remarks were made at the opening of a one-day workshop, which brings together policy makers from several concerned Ministries, as well as District officials and other stakeholders involved in Early Childhood Development programmes. The government recently approved an Early Childhood Development Policy and Strategic Plan, which provides a framework to ensure a holistic and integrated approach to the development of young children. The goal of the Early Childhood Development Policy is to “ensure all Rwandan children achieve their potential, are healthy, well-nourished and safe, and their mothers, fathers and communities become nurturing caregivers through receiving integrated early childhood development services”. This integrated approach to Early Childhood Development within the Policy calls for inter-sectoral coordination across various sectors. Early Childhood Development forms the foundation of Basic Education programmes in the Ministry of Education; Maternal and Child Health, Nutrition and Sanitation Services for the Ministries of Health and Infrastructure; and Social Protection Services of the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, among others. “We are all responsible to promote the right of every child to grow up in a conducive environment with opportunities to be the best that they can be”, the First Lady reminded the meeting. Also addressing the ECD Stakeholders Meeting was Noala Skinner, UNICEF Rwanda Country Representative, who highlighted the important role played by the community and families in the early development of children. “The community-based approach at the heart of the Early Childhood Development Policy underlines the importance of the family in giving young children the best start in life through promoting good parenting practices” said Ms Skinner. “Building an integrated system around children, centred on a nurturing and loving family equipped with positive parenting skills and community-based ECD services will contribute to sharply and permanently reduce the main problems related to the protection and development of children”, she said. During the summit, participants will plot a way forward for the implementation of the national ECD Strategic Plan in an integrated and coordinated manner and they were encouraged in that endeavour by the Minister of Education, Dr. Vincent Biruta, who told the gathering that the theme of the meeting was “coordination and integration” and called upon the stakeholders “to examine our commitments under the ECD Policy and Strategic Plan and to strengthen areas of coordination”. The ECD Stakeholders Meeting also marks the beginning of the Early Childhood Development Global Action Week Campaign, which comprises several media and awareness raising events, lasting up to 28 April. For these events, Government, UNICEF and Civil Society organisations have come together to jointly implement several initiatives, including radio broadcasts, media briefings, poster and leaflet campaigns, public discussions on Early Childhood Development and reading day events which will focus on instilling a reading culture at a young age.
For more information on both the ECD Stakeholders Meeting and the ECD Global Action Week, please visit the website: http://mineduc.gov.rw/ECDRwanda/. A twitter account – ECDRwanda - has also been created for the event. For more information, please contact The Ministry of Education: www.mineduc.gov.rw