NTCHISI-(MaraviPost)– The Roger Federer Foundation, Roche Employee & Charity Trust in conjunction with Action Aid Malawi, on Wednesday opened the much-awaited model and community-driven Early Child Development (ECD) Center in Ntchisi, that aims to invigorate children learning skills before primary school education.
With an allocation of US$13.5 million put aside for the 10-year project in Malawi on ECD, the Centre has enrolled of 240 children.
The Foundation and partners are targeting one million children by 2018 in six Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries, including Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
Speaking in an interview with the Maravi Post after the launching the Centre, Roger Federer Foundation Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Janine Handel emphasised the need for African governments, SADC in particular, to embrace early learning for child skills development.
Handel observed that serious investment in ECD contribute to productive citizens happens when children are nurtured while they are still young. She therefore pledged continued support towards ECD Centre so that many children are reached.
“We want to reach one million children by 2018 in six SADC countries the Foundation is working. More importantly, the Centres are community-driven, with locally available resources for their operations that includes food and staff,” said Handel.
Echoing on the same, Action Aid Malawi Country Director, Grace Malera said her organization was making it possible for organizations like the Federer Foundations, to reach the rural areas with the child centres concept.
Malera said so far about 16,000 out of 31,000 registered caregivers, have been trained for the targeted 80 development centres in Malawi.
“About 45% of children are currently going through ECD, which means that 55% are not supported at all. This prompted Action Aid to bridge the gap through the Roger Federer project to help government effort in the sector.
Clement Mukumbwa, Deputy Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare lauded the Foundation with its partners for supporting government effort to improve the sector.
Mukumbwa said the Malawi Government cannot fulfill all the needs, meeting the other necessities for its citizens, and hence the need for all partners and well-wishers to develop ECD programs.
Malawi requires MK4 billion yearly for it to make serious strides in the ECD programs. The Malawi national budget on ECD, has been inadequate since 2013; it was was MK25 million in 2013, and has jumped to MK700 million in the 2017/2018 fiscal year.
Despite such increases in budget allocation, the funds are not meeting the target of MK4 billion to make outstanding headway towards child development.
The development has resulted into poor infrastructure and inadequate human resources including caregivers towards Malawi’s child development programs.