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Poor infrastructure affecting ECD services

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Authorities in the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare have conceded that the country lacks proper infrastructure for child care, thus compromising on issues of early childhood development (ECD) services.

Social Welfare Officer for Mzimba South District Grace Mvula bemoaned that a majority of community-based childcare centres (CBCCs) operate in dilapidated structures and in worst scenarios under trees.

She said the development defeats the purpose of ECD initiatives which the government is currently championing as a way of ensuring that children if Malawi have a proper upbringing socially, psychologically, morally and spiritually among other aspects of life.

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Mvula was speaking in Mzuzu on Saturday on the sidelines of a graduation ceremony for 75 caregivers who had undergone a two-week intensive training in child care under the auspices of the Foundation for Children’s Rights (FCR).

“The situation is deplorable in most parts of the country, especially rural areas. The good intentions of bringing children together for specialised care are watered down by the circumstances that our CBCCs find themselves in,” said Mvula, who appealed for concerted efforts from various stakeholders.

Commenting on the training, Mvula hailed the inclusive approach to ECD services that the FCR has taken, saying it would help narrow the existing gaps among children in urban and rural areas.

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“The revised national ECD strategic plan emphasises ensuring that children with special needs and those from ultra-poor families are also guaranteed of their basic childhood rights. This can only be possible with skilled caregivers,” she stressed.

FCR Executive Director Jennipher Mkandawire said although the country faces the problem inadequate caregivers, it is necessary for the few that are available to be equipped with necessary skills for their work.

“ECD services can be improved with well-trained caregivers. Suffice to say that the first eight years of a child are crucial for development, hence the need to be handled by able hands,” Mkandawire explained.

She said with financial help from Save the Children, the FCR intends to hold a series of training targeting about 360 caregivers in Mzimba South District.

In Malawi, 55 percent of children have no access to early childhood development services.

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