Mum starts with sound; m, Dad starts with sound; d and aunt starts with sound; a. These are usually the words and explanations given by teachers while teaching children at elementary levels. Words and things that the children can relate with are used to teach them while they are taught to understand the basics.
My distant relatives’ daughter of 13 years was brought to stay with my mother and after arriving home, my mother, like any other parent took her to school. This girl, Hanna, not real name was taken to primary three after repeating primary four in the village for two year.
Even in primary three, she was not still doing well in class. Hanna would come back from school and keep her books in her suit case. No one set an eye on her assignments and she would get hold of her books again the following morning when she was ready to go to school. Hannah had no friends in the neighborhood and neither did she have friends at school. She kept in her cocoon at school and at home.
This became a little disturbing to everyone at home. We took a step to find out what exactly the problem was that was making Hanna not excel in class. As we looked for possible reasons, we realized that she actually was very interested in school, but her challenge was that she never understood anything in class. She did not know how to read the basic alphabets and numbers. This was not because she did not want to do so, but rather because she did not get the opportunity to go to an Early Childhood Development centre that would trigger her mind to do so.
The only way out was to find an independent teacher to take Hanna through the basics that she missed during her early childhood stage. One year down the road, Hannah became very good at reading and to our amazement she passed with high scores to join primary four in position 20 out of 105 children.
Hannah is not alone, there are thousands of children out there who do not exactly understand what their teachers are teaching in class and no one bothers to find out why they are not passing well. They nevertheless, get to be promoted to the next level under the automatic promotion policy that eventually catches up with them in primary seven where they cannot produce excellent results to enable them join senior one.
How many of us had the opportunity to go to a Childhood Development centre where the child’s first foundation with long-lasting benefit is laid? The following are the benefits of Early Childhood Development to a child:
Social and Emotional Development: Having your child attend pre-school programme throughout his or her early years allows him or her to develop relationships with fellow children and adults. This provides a sense of security and belonging to the child.
Cognitive Development: Consistency in the pre-school programme significantly impacts on a child's cognitive development. High-quality early childhood development programmes provide developmentally appropriate curricula and enable children to develop specific cognitive skills at the early age.
Language Development: Language development occurs at a rapid pace in children between the ages of one and five. Children who are secure in their environment and with the right people around them are more likely to engage in frequent, age-appropriate conversations.
The National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy framework recognizes all of these provisions and applauds the role they continue to play in the wellbeing of all Children, especially Children of 0-8. However, due to the multi-disciplinary nature of the needs of a child, there is need for integrated services for holistic and balanced growth and development.
The future of Uganda today lies in the well-being of its children. The prospect of socio-economic transformation of the state rests with investing in the young people of Uganda. Today’s investment in Children is tomorrow’s peace, stability, security, democracy and sustainable development.
It is only prudent to do so with cheerful hands and hearts!!!
Written by Loice Epetiru, Communication Officer, UCRNN.