The Government of Uganda put in place an ECD Policy that is the overarching framework for all practitioners on matters of Early Childhood Care and Development.
The key tenets of the policy are;
- To harmonize existing ECD policy-related goals, objectives, strategies and initiatives within and across all sectors.
- To set, improve and align standards for ensuring access to well-coordinated, quality, equitable and inclusive ECD services within and across sectors.
- To build and strengthen the capacity of systems and structures to deliver integrated quality and inclusive ECD programs.
In addition, there is an ECCD framework that provides for A multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary approach used in the implementation of this comprehensive policy. This is so due to the fact that there are many stakeholders involved in service delivery for young children. So, the framework enhances the provision of quality services to meet children’s holistic needs and to safeguard the rights of all young children.
The two are the overarching guidelines in the country and anybody operating or desiring to operate an ECCD Centre is required to abide by the stipulated policy guidelines.
Suffice to note that there is limited awareness of the policy provisions, therefore, resulting in harp hazardous operations of ECD Care centres.
What ECCD institutions should take note of before opening or as they run ECCD centers; The proprietors should ensure they have enough space for both indoor and outdoor activities, very well trained teachers and caregivers, cooking and eating areas, resting area, first aid box, safe drinking water, child friendly toilet facilities, security and key statutory documents. A good ECCD center should have a reading area, play and discovery area, sitting and writing equipment and all teachers should be trained in the use of the Learning framework produced by the National curriculum development Centre.
Parents Role in supporting Early learning and development of their children. Before a child joins an early learning center, it is the role of the parent to make sure the child grows up in a warm friendly and caring home environment. Learning how to use mother tongue is very crucial as it forms the basis of learning other languages. Good feeding and taking care of the child’s health needs are equally important. It’s the role of the parents that these children are immunized against the killer diseases and also to make sure that they are protected against all forms of abuse and neglect.
What to consider while looking for a good ECCD center for your child
To ensure we do not lose focus on the cruciality of child development I would like to take you through some basics that we need to pay attention to. The overall being “Getting it rights from the start”.
Childhood is a one-off window of opportunity that if missed has long-lasting implications on the child’s charterer. It starts with how we stimulate the child’s cognitive development; there is a holistic package; health, nutrition, growth, physical exercise. With the current life challenges and work demands, many children are taken to daycare facilities at 6 months. That, therefore, means the cognitive development of the child is in the hands of the caregiver.
So, when looking for where to place your child, don’t just look for anyplace with signage of daycare. Visit several to address your mind to the detail in the daycare center and facilities therein because they will be instrumental of how this child’s development is shaped.
Some things to look out for include;
- do they have trained caregivers,
- is the environment clean- water and sanitation?
- what nutrition plan is there a menu,
- does the center monitor the child’s growth and development;
- is the teaching and learning plan age-appropriate?
- when is a child introduced;
- do the children have nap time;
- what stimuli do they use for cognitive development?
Once you as a parent are satisfied with this, then you are in the right place that will guarantee a holistically developed child. If you get these fundamentals right, the results and marks will come in automatically.
What can we do to support the roll-out of Quality ECCD services in our areas?
Training of professionals (teachers/Caregivers), observing minimum standards, emphasizing parenting education for all parents, supporting children with learning and play materials, safe water access, partnering with other community institutions that are offering other child-related services, etc. etc.