By Blessings Mpinganjira:
The Early Child Development (ECD) Coalition has cited inadequate funding and infrastructure as some major challenges that frustrated progress in early childhood education in the 2022.
The coalition’s National Coordinator Joylet Genda said low funding to the ECD sector, at less than one percent of the national budget, compromised the quality of services offered to children.
Genda has since asked government to lead locally financing and implementation of quality centre-based ECD services rather than relying on donor funds.
On the other hand, Genda has commended government for introducing honoraria for ECD caregivers, saying the development has contributed positively to the improvement of education at ECD centres.
On his part, Executive Director of the Civil Society Education Coalition, Benedicto Kondowe, said in an interview that inadequately funding ECD undermines Malawi’s ability to build a solid foundation for education.
Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Fred Simwaka, said the ministry is working closely with the World Bank in a project called ‘Investing in Early Years’ with the aim of improving early childhood education.
“As a ministry, our desire is to have enough funding for ECD services. We are working closely with our partners to ensure we achieve this,” Simwaka said.
Statistics from the ECD Coalition indicates that 48 percent of children in the country access ECD services, while less than one percent of the total budget is allocated to ECD against the need of five percent.
Unicef says giving children the best start in life brings out huge benefits for the little ones and for the societies where they live.
“Providing ECD interventions to all young children and families is one of the most powerful and cost-effective equalisers we have at our disposal, to ensure that the most vulnerable children can reach their full potential,” the UN agency says.