Tanzanian Ministers Declaration on Early Childhood Development

Posted on | februari 29, 2012 | No Comments

Historic Meeting Brings Government Leaders, Major Donors Together to Address Needs of Tanzania’s Youngest Children Major financial, legislative commitments to support young children within reach.

Government officials, major international foundations and locally-based early child development advocates meet this week for the nation’s first biennial forum to address the needs of young children in Tanzania, taking a visible step toward the development and funding of policies that enhance their nutrition, health care, education and safety.

The First Biennial National Forum on Early Childhood Development brings together advocates for young children and Tanzanian district and national level officials to bolster programs and services around young children’s nutrition, healthcare, early learning and violence prevention. Senior officials from the Ministry of Community Development, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Educational and Vocational Training addressed the meeting, signaling the government’s interest in taking positive steps to improve the lives of Tanzania’s youngest citizens.

The Forum was immediately preceded by a meeting of 14 of the world’s leading foundations focused on child development, who announced that a collective financial investment would be made to fund critical programs supporting children 0-8 in Tanzania once government follows through on commitments to create an early childhood development policy and a line item in the Tanzanian budget dedicated exclusively to programs for young children.

“A government’s greatest responsibility is to ensure the health and welfare of its youngest citizens: its children,” said Lisa Jordan, Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation. “The time is now and the opportunity is ripe for Tanzania to put the needs of young children first, and we’re proud to offer support and tangible commitments alongside what we hope will be decisive action for children on the part of the Tanzanian government.”

In Tanzania, there are 7.6 million children under the age of 5 living in rural areas, where learning opportunities are limited and health services are scarce. Forty two percent of Tanzanian children under 5 are stunted in their emotional and physical growth as a result of malnutrition. Sixty-three percent of young Tanzanian children don’t attend pre-school, and for those that do, the student-teacher ratio is 74 to 1, signaling the lack of attention they receive.

The foundations agreed to fund several items, including a national database to track indicators of children’s health and welfare; a fellowship to support emerging champions for young children; a pilot challenge fund to build an evidence base for what programs for kids 0-8 are most effective in East Africa; and a corporate challenge fund to invest in businesses that are good for young children.

“Without proper nutrition and lack of adequate stimulation and learning, children do not have the opportunity to develop the cognitive, linguistic, social and other key functioning skills necessary to succeed in school and later become productive members of society,” said Peter Colenso, Director of Investments for the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. “Investing in young kids is an investment in our future.”

Tanzania’s Vision 2025, an in-depth assessment of Tanzania’s history and direction, states the country’s desire to be a middle-income economy in just 13 years. The hope is that the momentum building discussions held during the Forum will yield concrete actions by the Tanzanian Government to ensure the passing and implementation of childhood development policies that will dramatically bolster overall well-being services and resources for young children.

“When we invest in children, we improve learning, earning and living for everyone,” said Mary Kabati, executive director of the Tanzania Early Childhood Development Network (TECDEN). Working with partners, we can seize this moment to improve the lives of young children and build a better society for us all.”

AUTHOR: Shout Africa
URL: http://www.shout-africa.com
E-MAIL: news [at] shout-africa.com

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