EU pours N$58m into preprimary education

Minister of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare Doreen Sioka says Namibian children are privileged to have access to early childhood development centres.

She said this at the launch of an European Union (EU) early childhood development (ECD) reform programme at Mix Settlement Primary School yesterday, worth about N$58 million.

“You are very fortunate to have ECD . . . and so many opportunities,” she said.

Sioka said ECD programmes and services are aimed at increasing equitable and inclusive access to opportunities.

“Through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) towards the education sector reform contract, the ministry of gender has constructed 48 ECD centres, as well as renovated and upgraded 42 ECD centres in all 14 regions, to the tune of about N$58 million,” she said.

Sioka said through the 11th EDF, the ministry supported 2 633 ECD centres with teaching and learning materials, as well as with protective equipment in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We wish to focus on increasing collaboration with other partners to roll out the implementation of key activities to increase access to quality ECD, focusing on the provision of meals to children in ECD centres, especially those serving marginalised communities,” she said.

Minister of education, arts and culture Anne Nghipondoka at the event said Namibia has made significant progress on the implementation of the national integrated ECD policy, the Education Act, the food nutrition security policy and the Child Care and Protection Act.

Doreen Sioka

“These policies and laws are essential for providing a solid foundation for our children’s education.We have also maintained a stable macro-economic policy and have made progress in improving public financial management and budget transparency,” she said.

Nghipondoka said the ministry is committed to strengthening the Namibian education system and improving access to quality education for all Namibian children.

She said the EU budget support programme will play a crucial role in helping the minsitry achieve its goals by expanding access to education for young children.

EU ambassador to Namibia Ana-Beatriz Martins said the EU aids in enhancing access to ECD facilities and services in increasing the number of preprimary classes across the country and in boosting the quality of care and education for preprimary children.

“As decades of academic studies have shown, many crucial stages of human development occur in early childhood. A lack of opportunities, poor quality education, cognitive and emotional support during early years of childhood can significantly disadvantage young children and reduce their potential for success,” she said.

Martins said ECD centres and preprimary education lay the foundations for basic literacy and numeracy skills.

“The Namibian government has shown great commitment towards the well-being of children. It is signatory to the United Nations Convention on Children’s Rights.

“It has ratified several international conventions on the well-being of children and scores highly on the public education budget, with approximately 20% of resources going to the sector.

“The new ECD budget support programme is endowed with a budget of around N$320 million, of which N$262 million will go directly to the Namibian treasury, and N$60 million for technical assistance, including support actions implemented by our partners,” she said.

Martins said with the first disbursement of N$100 million in December 2023, the project is running and is fully in the hands of the gender and education ministries.

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