June 14, 2019
By Dusuba Koroma
UNICEF has yesterday (13th June 2019), held a parenting dialogue with stakeholders on how to tackle issues dealing with the Early Development of a Child (EDC).
The dialogue was focused on influencing policies and EDC outcome for all children in Sierra Leone.
According to the UNICEF Chief of Education, Celeste Stanley, the campaign was launched in 2017 with the hash tag EarlyMomentsMatter and that the initiative was to ensure that there was an increased awareness of early childhood development in this part of Africa.
She noted specifically that the awareness raising focused on issues relating to the first year of a child, and that UNICEF hopes to increase understanding about the things that are important for the general well-being and development of a child.
“We seek to raise awareness and implement policies on good parenting practices. We implement policies for funding and scaling a multi sectorial national policy for improving EDCs for the children in Sierra Leone,” she said.
Swadchet Sankey,UNICEF Education Specialist explained that the EDC’s global campaign (EarlyMomentsMatters) has been designated as a parenting month to raise awareness about the importance of good parenting for a child’s brain and overall development.
She stated that EDC has to do with all the essential policies that the child needs to get a healthy development and the ability to regulate emotion.
Swadchet also stated that from conception to the time the child is eight years old is very much paramount to his or her development because of the distinct set of needs he or she desires.
“Lack of nutrition and adequate care can lead to the child’s brain not to develop,”Swadchet said
She said 43% of children under five all over the world are of the risk of not reaching their full potential as a result of lack of nutrition.
She said in low income country like Sierra Leone, only one out of five children has the opportunity to attend pre-school.
Representing the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), Milton P. Mansaray stated that there was need for policy makers to increase the maternity leave given to female workers, so as to enable them have enough time for exclusive breastfeeding.
Chernor Bah, founder of the Children’s Forum Network, encouraged men to assist their women especially at night in babysitting, adding that women should not be single handedly left to take care of the physical needs of the child.