Early Childhood Coordinator (ECD) for Mchinji District Hannah Mangani has disclosed that there are over 3000 unskilled caregivers in the district thereby compromising the quality of learning and care provided to children.
Mangani complained that the caregivers who are working in the various Community-Based Care Centers (CCBC) lack the necessary skills to support children’s cognitive, psychological, motor, and language development among other areas.
Mangani said this when Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare Agnes Mkusankhoma inspected some of the ECD structures that have been built under the World Bank-funded Investing in Early Years Project in the district.
“As a district we lack funding to be able to train all the caregivers in all our CBCCs, through the World Bank project we have trained 120 caregivers, there are more than 300 who remain unskilled, who are doing their work out of passion and commitment,” she said.
Mangani said in the interim they are encouraging the caregivers that have undergone training to share the knowledge gained with others.
One of the caregivers Fanny Nyirenda from Chisomo CBCC called on the government to give them some form of incentive for the work that they do.
She said being volunteers they face several challenges in taking care of the children usually aged between three and five.
She also disclosed the need for additional classrooms saying the three that they have are not enough for the 220 children in their care.
“Looking after children is not a mean thing and government should seriously consider compensating us the caregivers. We are not asking for salaries because these are our own children, so we just need something to keep the team motivated,” Nyirenda said.
Nyirenda said food supplies for the children are also an issue of concern adding they try to cultivate food crops such as Soya Beans and Maize.
On her part, Mkusa Nkhoma said the government is committed to ensuring quality ECD services in Malawi and that through various partners caregivers’ training is one of the key priority areas.
She then thanked the World Bank for the $60 million projects which are being implemented in 13 districts.
“We are so thankful that World Bank came in to support government’s agenda in pre-school training of our children by stimulating activities and education. Through the project we are also tackling the problem of under-nutrition,” she said.
The main objective of investing in Early Years project is to improve coverage and utilisation of ECD services with a focus on nutrition and early learning.