By Mary Hearty
In an effort to advance the wellbeing of children and families living in the most marginalized and disadvantaged areas globally, several multinational organizations have partnered to launch an Early Childhood Education virtual hub.
These organizations include the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Human Development (IHD) with support from UNICEF, the LEGO Foundation, Aga Khan Foundation, Hilton Foundation and Johnson & Johnson.
The platform known as the ‘ECD Workforce Hub’ aims to strengthen the capacity of the Early Childhood Development workforce by providing relevant information, courses and trainings to caregivers, frontline workers, policy makers, practitioners and other key stakeholders in ECD.
Consequently, this will help bridge gaps that hinder children in resource constrained and marginalized communities from achieving their developmental potential, robbing them of a chance to compete with their counterparts in high resource settings on an equal footing.
Speaking at the launch, Chief Justice Martha Koome said the launch of this ECD Workforce Hub is a momentous event given that it targets the advancement and protection of a vulnerable segment of our community, which are children.
“Now more than ever, there is a need for coordinated efforts among health, education, child protection, and social protection sectors to ensure holistic support for children in the early years,” Chief Justice Koome said.
She added: “Early childhood care and development is central to the lives of every family with young children. Given the Hub’s focus to children, their caregivers and the care-giving environment, its establishment resonates with our Constitution’s vision of the family serģving as the foundation of the society.”
Dr Amina Abubakar, IHD’s Director said the hub will translate scientific material into practical information which can be used to advance holistic child development.
“More than 250 million children globally, and especially in low- and middle-income countries like Kenya, are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential due to chronic poverty, lack of access to healthcare, good nutrition and responsive care. Through this hub we plan to train the ECD workforce to provide high quality and accessible programmes and services for the most marginalized children,” Dr Abubakar noted.
The online platform builds on previous work undertaken by IHD since its inception in 2014 through its Hilton Phase I and II projects, World Bank Early Years Fellowship project and the UNICEF/LEGO Foundation Scaling Up Playful Parenting Project.
IHD’s studies and interventions illustrate that good ECD has a lifelong impact on the economic, social and physical wellbeing of an individual and society.
Arif Neky, United Nations Kenya Advisor on Strategic Partnerships commended the Aga Khan University on addressing some of the existing gaps around policy transformation across the country.
“Access to technical and professional development courses will enable policy makers and practitioners, frontline workers and many other stakeholders involved in the early days of a child to have a better understanding on the science of early childhood development, particularly those from impoverished and vulnerable communities in Kenya,” he said.
Recent work by UNICEF shows that ECD receives the least resources, with higher education getting the most resources, and has the least well-trained personnel serving children.