A lost future?

Early Childhood Development in disadvantaged areas

Every year, more than 200 million children under five years old fail to reach their full cognitive and social potential. Most of these children live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. As a result of poor development, many children are likely to under-achieve in school and subsequently to have low incomes as adults. As adults, they are also likely to have children at a very early age, and provide poor health care, nutrition and stimulation to their children, thus contributing to the intergenerational transmission of poverty and poor development. (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs332/en/)

The most telling statement from WHO, is that “ the health sector has been slow to promote early child development (ECD) and to support families with appropriate information and skills.”

So what is the challenges we face in our immediate environment?

As a father of two boys, I am acutely aware of the need for stimulation, education and the development of my sons emotional and cognitive growth. As parents, we have the luxury of the internet to research ECD, a proactive school that encourages their development emotionally and cognitively and a pre-school that follows a specific curriculum to ensure my sons develop their potential.

But what of  parents in communities where their greatest challenge is finding their next meal, and where there is no electricity let alone internet connectivity, These parents are in “SURVIVAL” mode…

Is there a need for programmes of this nature to educate parents about the need for early childhood development, considering the survival mode some parents may be in?

The answer? A resounding YES!!!

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“The more stimulating the early environment, the more a child develops and learns.” (WHO) The less stimulating, the greater the chance that a child will face an uphill battle in later life not only emotionally and cognitively, but health wise thus ensuring that the cycle of poverty continues.

In the short time I have been with Project Feed the Children, www.projectfeedthechildren.co.za  I have observed that there is a sense of “learnt helplessness”, an attitude of not wanting to change, or do anything to move out of survival mode.But I have also seen change, as evidenced by the picture above where children are being empowered to learn and grow.

Perhaps,  the development of an early childhood development programme for both children and parents that encourages and stimulates learning of words and numbers, thinking and social interaction.

The WHO website also states that in communities that invest in E.C.D. in disadvantaged communities see a return in the later years in terms of lower unemployment, improved literacy and numeracy and lower crime rates.

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So what are we waiting for?      Let us apply our minds to developing effective programmes that focus on early childhood development.          Let us teach the children how to play, to read and to learn..to grow!

PFTC

If you would like to get involved, or are able to advise in the development of such programmes applicable to our conditions, please email me at : philip@traumasupportsa.co.za

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