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30.05.2005 General News

Africa Early Childhood Devt Conference opens

By GNA

Accra, May 30, GNA - The First Lady, Mrs Theresa Kufuor on Monday urged African governments to show commitment to the formulation and implementation of child-related policies, especially those of the World Summit for Children of 1990 and United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children of 2002.

"Governments need to create the enabling environment to provide children of the early childhood stage with a solid educational foundation to ensure that toddlers of today become the leaders of tomorrow," she said at the opening of the Third African International Early Childhood Development Conference in Accra.

The Conference on the theme: "Moving Early Childhood Development Forward in Africa," would focus on effective caring practices within the family and community, ensuring access and use of quality basic services and creating supportive policy environment for children.

Thirty-nine African countries, 26 African Ministers, representatives from the World Bank, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and other UN Bodies would attend the conference.

Mrs Kufuor said Ghana had adopted a basic educational reform programme to ensure that early childhood development was given prominence in the education strategies and policies.

In pursuit of the agenda, all Ghanaian children at the age of four years are to receive two years compulsory Early Childhood Development (ECD) education before entering primary one.

This is part of a holistic basic educational reform policy adopted by the Government to ensure that the child gets the best start in life - good health, proper nutrition and early learning, safe water and basic sanitation.

Mrs Kufuor said the Basel Mission developed and started early childhood development centres or pre-schools in Ghana in 1843 and since then, successive governments had focused on the development of children. "We have made remarkable strides to enhance the holistic development of the child. This has been given legal impetus in the 1992 Constitution, which mandates governments to ensure the rights of the child," The First Lady said.

Mrs Kufuor, however, expressed concern about statistics, which indicated that about 20,000 children of school going age in the country were outside the walls of the classroom.

On the HIV/ADIS menace, the First Lady called on African Governments to consider the plight of children in the fight against the pandemic.

The Conference seeks to draw increased political commitment to early childhood development in Africa, facilitate accelerated action at country levels and feed it into other development processes.

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