Better coordination and management of projects at the level of sectors and mobilising funds to carry out these projects, with regard to early childhood care and education (ECCE) were some of the key recommendations that came out of the 3rd Bi-Annual National Evaluation Workshop for Sectoral Technical Teams in ECCE.
The annual evaluation workshop was organised jointly by the High Level Policy ECCE Committee and IECD as the coordinating entity for the development and implementation of the National Action Plan.
The aim of the half-day workshop, held yesterday morning at the Seychelles Institute for Teacher Education (Site), was to bring together the various sectoral teams in ECCE to share and take stock of progress after two years of implementing the various projects in the National Action Plan (NAP) in ECCE 2019-2020, as well as to discus challenges encountered in implementing the projects.
It was a platform for the professionals from Health, Education, Social Affairs, Local Government and IECD to share their experiences, lessons learned and to obtain feedbacks so as to chart the way forward for the next NAP 2021-2022.
The workshop was attended by the chairperson of the High Level ECCE Policy Committee, Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon, who is also the Minister for Local Government; the Minister for Family Affairs, Mitcy Larue; the ambassador for Women and Children, Dr Erna Athanasius; the chairman of IECD, Captain David Savy; principal secretaries and chief executives of the ECCE sectors in Education, Local Government, Health, Social Affairs and IECD among other professionals.
The chief executive of IECD, Shirley Choppy, said that IECD, which played a major role in bringing all sectors together to provide guidance and assistance to sectoral technical teams during the implementation process, is generally satisfied with the implementation of projects under the NAP 2019-2020 but there is a need for better coordination and management of projects while the plea is for government to allocate more funding to implement the projects.
She further said that as is the case for any plan where achievements and setbacks are recorded, “there are also opportunities for further improvements”.
“We have noted that there is to be an inter-link between the project officers implementing the projects with the higher level in the sectors. Collaboration and coordination across sectors are paramount for early childhood development,” she said.
According to Mrs Choppy, another key recommendation is mobilising funds to implement the projects for small children, especially for research projects now that funds are scarce and difficult to obtain.
“ECCE is a costly business and though government has placed a lot of emphasis on ECCE, what we want from it is more funds so that we can do more for our children while they are still in their childhood age and to prepare them for their future,” Mrs Choppy added.
Under NAP 2019-2020, the Education sector had two projects; a robust tracking, monitoring and reporting mechanism at early childhood level at all state school schools and to make available an early childhood training room for service providers and practitioners.
The Social Affairs had four projects to implement which included the establishment of a screening and monitoring structure for the protection of children in care homes, a safe interview room, to evaluate the efficacy and validity of existing parenting programmes and to determine the level of care and welfare of children born to teenage mothers.
Setting up a day lounge for nursing mothers with baby in neo-natal intensive care unit as part of post natal care and introduction of universal neo-natal screening for inborn errors of metabolism were two out of four projects that were not materialised by the health department. The lounge was turned into a female medical ward while the depart searches for a place to install the purchase universal neo-natal screening equipment. Implementing the tooth brushing programme in crèches and the introduction of a personal child health record booklet has been successful.
IECD is 95% successful in implementing all of its five projects. They include establishing of structures and procedures for data collection on early childhood development indicators for the Education sector and the development of an accredited pre-registration, sensitisation training programme for non-registered home based childminders on the national standards for childminding services, assessment of the provision services in day care centres to develop quality standards and assessment of early learning readiness of children in home-based childminding services and day care centres.
With new built day care centres in Takamaka, Anse Aux Pins, Glacis and Grand Anse Praslin, to be operational by next year, the local government, under NAP, is on target for the construction of two such facilities every year. Further to the construction of facilities to ease the provision of early learning and care, the department is targetting also to construct recreational facilities for children whereby new playgrounds were built in the districts of Takamka, Perseverance 2 and on La Digue while nine other districts had theirs refurbished.
In her address to the gathering, Designated Minister Mondon said that inspired by the Convention of the Rights of the Child, international research findings and best practices in ECCE, the framework of the NAP outlines our core beliefs and values about children, early childhood development and our common and shared vision for a winning start in life for all Seychellois children.
“It is in this context that our government continues to place strong emphasis on developments in early childhood care and education,” the Minister Mondon added.
She claimed that after nine years since the launch of the national action plan, Seychelles has witnessed rapid transformation and consistent progress in ECCE – which has culminated in our country being designated by one of the most prestigious international accolades – the Unesco Category II Centre in ECCE. In addition, the recent World Bank ratings of Countries’ Human Capital Accumulation Index has placed Seychelles in the first position in Africa – much higher than most of the small island developing states in the region including Mauritius and those in the Caribbean.
“These are just to name but a few of the significant milestones that have directly influenced our resilient ECCE system,” Designated Minister Mondon said.
She applauded IECD for taking this bold step to bring the heads of organisations together and talk about ECCE and noted that sectors of Health, Social Affairs, Local Government, Education and IECD remain the instruments of hope through which we can chart a prosperous future for our children.
“We must ensure that our efforts to expand and improve ECCE services take into account the new thinking and shift in ECCE, the challenges brought about by the new global pandemic, and the need to fight our triple challenge of accessibility, equity, and more importantly quality,” Designated Minister Mondon said.
The highlight of the workshop was a panel discussion consisting of the sectors’ principal secretaries and chief executives where they shared their experiences and deliberated on key themes to unpack the actual implementation of the plan at their respective sector.
Patrick Joubert – Nation.sc