A regional platform to improve the provision of quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs in Africa was launched on Monday in Kigali, Rwanda, during the Ministerial Conference for Sub-Saharan Africa on Education Post-2015.
The Inter-Country Quality Node on Early Childhood Development (ICQN-ECD) is created at the instigation of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Higher Education and Scientific Research of Mauritius, which has taken the responsibility of its leadership.
The ICQN is a regional platform for the sharing of knowledge, peer learning and the establishment of a community of practice. Its main objective will be to improve ECD policies and practices, so that “every African child gets a good start in life through the implementation of effective ECD programs”.
The ICQN will bring together representatives of the Education Ministries of various countries, experts in education and ECD, and strategic partners.
It will pursue and bring to new heights the work accomplished by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) Working Group on ECD, which has been coordinated by UNESCO since 2007.
Minister of Education and Human Resources, Higher Education and Scientific Research of Mauritius, Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, cited the 98 percent enrollment rate achieved by Mauritius at preschool level, which has been achieved through a system based on children’s rights.
The Minister called upon African countries and development agencies to support the new Inter-Country Quality Node.
“We can no longer wait. Every child who dies because of a disease that could have been prevented … every child who does not have access to education … is our responsibility. We have the power to change the destiny of our children and the history of Africa.”
Today, nearly half of all children who die before the age of five and one third of all children who are malnourished are African.
African children also have the least educated mothers in the world: 30 percent of African women from 15 to 24 years of age and 50 percent of those over 25 are illiterate.
The children of these mothers are less likely to attend school, and when they do, they are less likely than their peers to perform well.
In addition, Africa is the continent with the most primary-age children out of school. According to UNESCO’s 2012 global report on Education for All, half of all children out of school live in sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly one child in four (23 percent) of primary school age has never been to school or has dropped out without completing primary education.