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Children are Rwanda’s arms

We’re half-way through the Global Action Week on Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD), and I’ve been to a number of campaigning events.

These have been aimed at raising parental awareness of the importance of the early years in shaping children’s futures, and encouraging all parents to send their children to ECCD centres.

They have also been an opportunity for communities to find out Rwanda’s plans for the youngest children and a key way to raise people’s awareness of local authorities.

In a decentralised structure such as Rwanda’s, seeking commitments from the district and sector authorities is crucial to implementing Rwanda’s national ECCD policy, adopted in 2011.

Combined with what we heard high-level representatives, including Rwanda’s first lady, commit to in the context of the expert workshop in Kigali last week, we’ve got all stakeholders covered.

Key messages from the Global Action Week

  • From children: Children are Rwanda’s future – they are Rwanda’s arms as a local song goes – and they must therefore be given the best start in life.
  • From parent committees: Families and communities must make sure all children attend ECCD centres, but parents should also be provided with all the key information they need to ensure they support their children by taking them to the local health centre when they need medical care, not punishing them at home, and taking more time to play with them in the early years.
  • From mayors and vice-mayors: Local authorities will ensure they include ECCD provision in the next review of their performance plans – this is the first step to take to ensure policies are matched with budget and monitoring at the local level.
  • From the Ministry of Education: The early years will be a key component of Rwanda’s forthcoming second Poverty Reduction Strategy – Rwanda is close to achieving universal primary education and is increasing efforts in secondary education (matched with its intention to become a middle-income country by 2020).
  • From other ministries involved: The ECCD policy is a crucial policy to implement to ensure all children are provided with the best opportunities from the very early years, enabling them to develop fully and ensure they are ready to learn. All relevant ministries will join forces by establishing a high-level task force that will monitor implementation and align priorities in early years .

Investing in Rwanda’s future

As outlined in our latest advocacy brief, investing in children will yield positive results for Rwanda, and all Rwandans, in the short-, medium- and long-term.

This is a message that parents, communities and authorities have supported throughout this Global Action Week.

Rwanda has set the foundations to implement its ECCD policy successfully and holistically.

It has so far taken the essential steps, but the government as a whole, and all ministries involved, will need to ensure parents, communities and local authorities are not stopped because of a lack of resources.

This is a commitment for all: ministries, local authorities, parents, communities and Rwanda’s children (for we have encouraged them to raise their voices too!).

For more information on Rwanda’s plans, visit the Ministry of Education’s ECD website.

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