By Thandiwe Garusa
SIX SADC member states gathered in Harare for a two-day meeting to lobby for a protocol enforcing governments to consider substantially increasing government funding for early childhood education.
The meeting, convened by the Zimbabwe Network of Early Childhood Development Actors (ZINEDCA), was attended by high level bureaucrats from Zimbabwe, Eswathini, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana.
Guest speaker, Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Tumisang Thabela urged SADC governments to collectively implement sustainable strategies to ensure children have access to quality early childhood education.
“SADC should focus on coming up with sustainable strategies on how to enable transitional environments for governments and civil society advocacy as well as coming up with the best route towards the adoption of ECD policy frameworks at regional (SADC) level,” Thabela said.
“It is important at this point to create regional policy space that could be used to launch this drive and restructure transnational activities as part of adaptive management to achieve best results under ECD advocacy,” she said.
She also said despite remarkable achievements so far there are still challenges in pre-primary learning.
“However, despite the gains we made to date, we still have a net enrolment ratio of 32% while 40% of our ECD children are out of school (EMIS 202 report). As Ministry, we are prioritising addressing long existing gaps in infrastructure shortages, long travelling distances from home to school and WASH. It is pleasing to note that the Zimbabwe Network of Early Childhood Development Actors (ZINECDA) and the TRANAC block are coming up with a transitional strategy to ECD policy framework like the other African blocks such as East African community,” she said.
The partners represented at the meeting launched the Southern Africa ECD network where solidarity speeches were made.
A cake was cut and eaten as a sweet symbol of the battle for recognition of the progress made so far.