By: Kanamugire Emmanuel
Dr Anita Asiimwe, the National Early Childhood Development Program Coordinator, has said that what are more important for the program are not the buildings.
Dr. Asiimwe rather emphasized that parents need to focus on children needs to grow.
The early years of children should be taken seriously because they influence what happen to them when they become adults.
The National Early Childhood Development Program (NECDP) has started to dispatch ECD centres and facilities countrywide where children acquire services related to early stimulation, hygiene and sanitation, health, nutrition and education.
Speaking at the inauguration of Kamembe Market based ECD centre, on Friday 12 July 2019, Dr Anita said that what matters first for early childhood development is not infrastructure but the major services children need at early age.
She said, the Government of Rwanda is committed to expanding the early childhood services in every village through partnership with local leaders, parents, NGOs and faith based organisations.
“When we talk about early childhood programs, it’s not about centres but services given to children from the period of pregnancy up to six years old. What matters most in this program are not the buildings but parents should be equipped with skills on how to behave during the pregnancy and breastfeeding so that the child grows well.” Dr Anita said.
Nathalie F. Hamoudi, the Deputy Representative for UNICEF Rwanda, said that ECD centres help children to develop well, become healthy and productive when they go to school, so Unicef will be supporting the Government of Rwanda to open more centres in the country.
“Kamembe Market based ECD is one out of six early childhood centres Unicef opens in the country; we hope to open five more to ensure that every child from zero to three years has access to early childhood services.”
Kamambe Market Based ECD was established by Action pour le Development du Peuple (ADEPE), a local NGO with support from United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
It is capable of receiving 120 children from zero to 36 months whose mothers are street vendors in Rusizi Secondary City.
These mothers used to leave their children in their neighbouring homes where they were not sure of their safety and good health. Others were carrying them on the street where they are sometimes chased by local security organs for their illegal activities.
Patricie Uwingeneye, one of street vendors in Kamembe said, “I am a street vendor due to the limited financial capacity. My two children are kept in the ECD centre here near the market. I used to leave them at home and I was not sure of their safety and health but now they are cared for.”
Parents take their children to the ECD centre at 8:00 am and meet them at 5: 00 pm. They have four caregivers who provide them with care, food and drinks. They have times to sleep and play.
Gorethi Niyonsaba, comments “My children have no problem. I used to carry them here. I was running with them on my back which will not happen anymore. This ECD centre is very important to us.”
The National coordinator for ADEPE, Gregoire Rucamumihigo advocates for helping more children who have not got a chance for ECD services due to its limited capacity so that no one is deprived from his/her basic rights.