A campaign designed to help in the overall development of children between zero and eight years will be launched by the Department of Children.
Dubbed “I will”, the programme — expected to be rolled out in July this year — will involve various stakeholders, including parents, churches, mosques and policymakers, all pledging to ensure the proper development of children in their early years.
“What we want to do is to let parents and other stakeholders understand that the early years of children are very critical because that is when their brains begin to develop, and if care is not taken and stimulation not done well, children could have difficulty with their brain development,” the acting Director of the Department of Children under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP), Florence Ayisi Quartey, said.
Ms Quartey, who was speaking on behalf of the Chief Director of the MOGCSP, Dr Afisah Zakariah, at a workshop on a revised draft of the early childhood care and development (ECCD) policy framework in Accra, said there was the need for stakeholders, especially parents, to engage children more often than they were currently doing.
For instance, she said, parents should not only strap their children at the back, but must also engage them in targeted plays that would stimulate the development of their brains, adding that “when it comes to feeding, the ‘I will’ campaign says you don’t just feed babies, but feed them with good food”.
Ms Quartey said for churches and mosques, the campaign would commit them to make the environment where the children met for services more child-friendly.
She said everybody had a role to play in the campaign for which reason her outfit was working with the ministries of Eduction, Health and Local Government and Rural Development to ensure the success of the programme.
On the revised policy, she said it was imperative to have a comprehensive and viable policy in place to advance ECCD implementation, adding that that would specify national priorities and improve investment and monitoring within the sector.
Ms Quartey said the objective of the workshop was to further engage stakeholders at the regional and district levels for their input into the revised policy to ensure that ECCD issues at the decentralised level were incorporated into the policy with broader stakeholder involvement.
Giving a background to the policy revision process, a health economist and senior research fellow at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research of the University of Ghana, Dr Ama Pokuaa Fenny, said the country’s ECCD policy was developed under the mandate of MOGCSP and published in 2004.
She said in 2021, MOGCSP, with support from UNICEF, appointed a team to facilitate the revision of the policy to restore a holistic and coordinated approach to ECCD.
The Lead of Clear Outcome, Terence Beney, said the revision covered all the rights-based services for children, including free birth registration services for all children when they were born; free basic preventive, promotive and curative health care for pregnant women and children, and social protection services.