Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Five things you need to know about the National ECD Policy

On Thursday September 15 2016 at Imperial Royale Hotel, Uganda launched its first-ever National Policy and Action plan on Early Childhood Development. The policy is expected to contribute to social, economic and human development, increase of workforce productivity, and poverty reduction.

The NIECD Policy of Uganda has three major objectives;

      -To harmonize existing ECD policy related goals, objectives, strategies and initiatives within and across all sectors.

     -To set, improve and align standards for ensuring access to well- coordinated, quality, equitable and inclusive ECD services within and across sectors.
          -To build and strengthen capacity of systems and structures to deliver integrated quality and inclusive ECD programs.

 It will also ensure integrated services for children from conception to eight years of age in the form of health, nutrition, education, protection, and parenting support services; representing one of Uganda’s most cost-effective ways to achieve more sustainable socio-economic growth in the future. Here are five things you need to know about the policy.

1. It’s all about the children
Early childhood is a special and crucial period during which the brain develops fastest, is most malleable, highly impressionable and most amenable to change. Science indicates that if children are not given timely and adequate opportunities for good nutrition and adequate stimulation, they lose opportunities for good physical and intellectual growth that cannot be made up for at later stages. Yes, it’s highly probable that the implementation of this policy will lead to a general increase in productivity and help us achieve some of our Sustainable Development Goals as a country, but the bottom line is giving children the best start in life.

2. Parents have the primary mandate
What parents do to care for children during the early years has the lifelong impact on children’s development. They need to be supported to effectively provide care through supportive structures and systems, and an enabling environment. The policy has the family and community strengthening as a core program area and prioritizes engaging parents and families in their children’s development and promotion of ownership programs. Family is the first line of response in ECD service delivery.

3. Other caretakers are involved
The Policy also targets other caregivers of these children. These include those who provide care for children in the absence of the parents, such as grandparents, other relatives and care providers in children’s homes. Families, parents and caregivers have the primary mandate for the care and upbringing of young children.

4. The main policy  areas
These include Early Childhood Care and Education, Food Security and Nutrition, Child Protection, Primary Health Care, Sanitation and Environment, Family strengthening and support, Communication, Advocacy and Resource mobilization

5. Each of us has a role to play
It does not matter where you fall; whether you’re into politics or a public servant, whether you’re a soldier, engineer, surveyor, architect or IT specialist. If you’re part of the Media or Local Governments, Civil Society Organizations or a Religious/cultural/community Leader;
If you work in the Private Sector or with NGOs/foreign mission; whether you’re a parent, relative, sibling, or a fellow child, each and every one of us has a role to play in making our communities and Uganda more child-friendly.

The full policy PDF can be accessed here- http://www.unicef.org/uganda/resources_18682.htm

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The best start in life

This is one of my favorite pictures from when I was a baby. It's my elder sister and I posing for a picture that was to be sent to my father in Denmark.

I don’t remember much from the time that I was a child. I do however remember feeling safe. Some memories stand out for me however from the early years of my life. On the weekends when my dad was around, my mum and dad would buy either goat’s meat or cornflakes, I do not know why it was one of the two foods but it was always one of the two. They would set up an eating place, one bowl or dish, and place it on a table in the corridor of our small house. My siblings and I would sit around this table together and eat the cornflakes/goat’s meat till the bowl was empty. My mum and dad would stand at the end of the corridor, holding each other and watching us eat together. I can’t remember the exact expressions on their faces but I would like to think that it was something like; ‘Yup, we created that’.

Another memory that stands out for me is one time when my dad came to school in Primary School. I think he was there to see our teachers. Since he was usually travelling, and not really around, this wasn’t something that happened often. I remember it was lunch time and we were outside playing and I managed to see him just as he was getting to the gate. I remember asking him to play with me, for just a few minutes. After a bit of hesitation, he agreed. We played ‘A ring of roses’ right there, in that crowded school yard. A man and his daughter. Best three minutes of my child hood.

It might not seem like it, especially in our African culture, but children do remember a good bit from their childhood. Some experiences stay with them their whole lives and even go on to influence the decisions they make and ultimately shape the person they become. Yes, we do want our children to be successful in school. We want them to be healthy and clean. But is that all we want our children to be? Is that what we are giving them in those very important first years?

You want your child to know he/she is loved. You want them to know they are accepted and they are valued. You want them to be well rounded individuals, with character and values and empathy. You want them to be happy. You want to give them that extra oomph that not only tugs at the brain but at the heart as well.

  I’m not a mother yet, but I am someone’s child. I know for sure that some of those early experiences contributed to who I am today.

Let’s give our children the best start in life.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Could it be...you?

Everyone has struggles. We all go through periods that are particularly trying to us. After a certain age, or at a certain point in life, you realize that these trials are part of life. You realize that they will always come and pass so you brace yourself and pray to come out on top. For some of us, you even develop a coping mechanism that will help you through it; mine is usually time-off/away because then I get a different perspective which always helps me to adjust.  

So what happens when a time comes and your mechanism does not work? And it does come sooner or later. What do you do?

Do you just throw in the towel and let yourself sink into a pity party of massive proportions? Do you throw yourself headfirst into the situation and try to fix it whatever way you know how? Do you run to your friends/family/loved ones and ask them to help you solve the problem? Do you throw money at it? Drink/party the problem away maybe?  Do you pray and fast for days; throw in some overnight prayers as a bonus? (Christians, I see you…) I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with trying any of the above; to each his own, but what happens when you try all these but they still don’t work?

Have you ever thought that maybe the problem might be you?

Yes, I said it! I believe that it all starts from the inside. Who you are, your character affects the way your life turns out to a very large extent. You can always tell when something is different on the inside though you’ll find most of us would rather live in denial all our lives than admit that maybe, something just ain’t right. Sometimes something as small as reading two extra pages of that book or getting to work ten minutes earlier than usual or even just smiling four times a day instead of the regular two is all it takes. 

So how do you know it’s you? You don’t have to look far to know something’s going on with you. There are so many ways to know if you’re in turmoil inside; the first and easiest one being the words you say. From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks. Also, if you find yourself being ruder than usual, more abusive, spewing filth basically, then there might be something you need to address.  If you find yourself more agitated, easily irritated, faster to bite off someone’s head than usual, then two things are happening. 

1)   The situation has finally gotten to you; this is probably because it’s taking longer than you thought it would and also your usual Three-step-solve-it-all-in-two-days-plan is not cutting it.
2) You need a new strategy; usually this works best if YOU adjust.  ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' Not my words...

It sucks I know. No one likes to think they are the problem; we all want to believe we are perfect. We are doing the right thing. It’s this and that that needs to change; It's so and so with the problem. Maybe it does need to change and maybe so and so does have a problem, but while you wait for it them change, do a little changing yourself. To make a slight alteration to the famous Michael Jackson lyrics; If you want to make your world a better place, stand with the man in the mirror. Take a look at yourself and make that change.