Universal Children’s Day Message from IECD Chief Executive Shirley Choppy

Mrs. Shirley Choppy

‘Children who are healthy, safe and have access to early learning care and education thrive to become active and responsible citizens’

“As the national voice for young children and advocate for early childhood development, the Institute for Early Childhood Development (IECD) is delighted to join the rest of the world in the observance of Universal Children’s Day, which is celebrated on November 20 each year. This day marks an important day in world history. It is on this day in 1954 that Universal Day for Children was established. It is also the day that the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the Convention on Children’s Rights.

“Promoting togetherness across the world, creating awareness among children and improving children’s welfare sits firmly at the heart of this special day! It reminds us that every child is special and that we all have a pivotal role to defend a safe, healthy, peaceful and happy life for our children. We owe it to the young generation to provide them with a nurturing environment and to build them a strong foundation from the very beginning of their life, ensuring their holistic development and the full realisation of their rights.

“This year, the task to safeguard and promote the welfare of children has been extremely challenging for the world as the Covid-19 health crisis has quickly turned into a child’s right crisis. The spread of Covid-19 has disrupted and touched almost every part of children’s lives worldwide, harming their health, education and wellbeing.

“On our shores, we have seen our children confined to their homes as services such as early childhood establishments and schools had to close down, and their lives altered as they adopted to the ‘new normal’. It has indeed been a tough couple of months for our children, but in so many ways, we remain fortunate as our children were among the first in the world to be able to return to their early year’s settings and schools, as well as to carry on with their regular activities in a Covid-free Seychelles.

“On this note, I would like to use this opportunity to convey the gratitude of IECD and its staff, including the early childhood care and education (ECCE) community to our health professionals for their tireless efforts in keeping our children safe from the pandemic. Our heartfelt appreciation also goes towards all childcare providers, ECCE professionals and all those who have stepped forward to ensure that our children can continue benefitting from a positive, high-quality early childhood experience. Let us remain strong and steadfast in our commitment to fulfilling our children’s rights, especially their rights to education, care and protection. Children’s rights need to be protected and honoured even during times of crisis.

“As we commemorate Universal Children’s Day, the IECD as a custodian for ensuring the rights of our young children to develop to their full potential has much to celebrate. In this spirit and as the institutional anchor for ECCE, the IECD has proudly achieved some major milestones this year – all of which aims to support quality outcomes in ECCE and a winning start for all Seychellois children. Among these are a few new flagship projects – the accredited training programme in childcare and development, developed in partnership with the Seychelles Institute of Teacher Education (Site); early learning readiness assessment of young children enrolled in crèche/pre-school; training of another large group of prospective childminders; and our greatest achievements worth sharing is IECD’s recent accreditation as a Unesco category II centre for early childhood care and development, which are about to commence work for its establishment.

“These positive evolutions would not have been possible without the shared responsibility and concerted efforts of all involved in ECCE and the support of the private sector. The relentless support and dedication towards this noble cause to ensure a safe, stimulating and nurturing childhood for every child and fulfilment of their rights – we would like to extend our appreciation and heartiest thank you.

“Remember, one the best pathways to building a strong society and securing our country’s future is to ensure that every child has a strong foundation and a winning start in life.

“Children who are healthy, safe and have access to early learning care and education thrive to become active and responsible citizens. This, however, needs the consensus of all members of the community and public investment.

“Together, we can nurture them to fly and to soar beyond their wildest dreams.

“With this, I would like to wish a Happy Universal Children’s Day to all children of Seychelles and the world!”