By Bampia Bundu
Education for All Sierra Leone Coalition EFA-SL) on May 2 celebrated the Global Action Week with the theme, ‘Early childhood care and education now,’ and the slogan of ‘Right from the start,’ at the British Council Auditorium at Tower Hill in Freetown.
In his remarks, the Chairman for EFA-SL, Mr. Moses Ogendeh Kamara, noted that the theme for this year’s celebration is very apt as early childhood education is the most neglected of all EFA goals. He added that there is an urgent need to advocate for a positive agenda for rights in early childhood which recognizes children as right bearers and points towards fulfilled and dignified childhoods and a positive unfolding of children’s present and future.
He disclosed that there is need for a required and concerted effort from State actors and beyond, which means that the campaign will have to target many people than has been previously the case. He also stated that they are looking at parents and primary care givers as well as the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology as key actors involved in early childhood care and education, and in an integral approach, involving other social sectors.
“Early childhood care and education is a recognized right in various international and regional instruments which underscores the importance States attach to promoting and protecting the rights of the child,” he maintained.
He also stated that that as civil society actors it is their duty to remind Government of their obligation and to raise awareness around this important aspect in a child’s development.
Mr. Kamara also explained that the campaign is going to be different from the past as their focus has mainly been on access to and retention of education of a superior quality while they will now look at those aspects of access and quality, but will also address other factors that make for a good start.
“We shall be looking at the environment in which children live, their health, nutrition, general care, stimulation and wellbeing,“ he pointed out.
“We are very thankful to the Ministry of Education for support to this programme, indicating that from a first step the State’s commitment to education development is taking the right direction,” he concluded.
In her statement the Chairperson of the ceremony, Madam Madiana Samba, noted that as they celebrate this year’s Global Action Week on education for all, they want to call on the authorities to come on board to ensure that Sierra Leone attains the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) on education for all before 2015.
She further stated that the theme for this year’s celebration is timely as early childhood development in very much important in the upbringing of a child. She maintained that for children to be well educated they need to be well taken care of during their childhood ages of 0-8 years. She appealed to Teachers to continue to focus their attention on the children as they are the feature of the country.
In her presentation, Dr. Dele Sannoh from the University of Sierra Leone explained that they have noticed that there are trained and qualified Teachers across the country but most of them lack the technicalities to teach or handle children during their early ages.
He revealed that in the next five years they are going to ensure that they train more Teachers on how to handle and teach children in their early ages.
He also explained that children are developed before conception as the parents have to visit their Doctor for counselling before the child is being conceived and during the pregnancy stage the woman has to eat good food so as to build the brain of the child in her womb.
He also explained that early childhood development is the genesis of a child’s educational career as the parent, Teachers and the communities they live in have to play a major role in ensuring that they provide the right guidance and education for their children.
Speaking on behalf of donor partners, Mr. Nuru Deen explained that pre-school is the first point of call for a child’s educational career and it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that they send their children to pre-school for proper preparation.
He also stated that it is recommended that there should be availability and access to early childhood education, appealing to donor organizations to increase their pledges to education for all especially in early childhood development.
Speaking on behalf of the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU), Madam Marian Abu, explained that about two hundred million children worldwide demand the right for early child education especially the deprived, destitute, and marginalised children across the world.
She used the forum as an opportunity to disclose that they have put together the pre-school national curriculum which she said they are planning to present to Government for consideration.
The key note address was delivered by the Basic Education Secretary/ EFA Coordinator in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Horaso-Nelson Williams.