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02.06.2005 Education

Provide children with quality pre-school education

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Accra, June 2, GNA - Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo, Minister of Education on Thursday reminded African governments that it was their social and political responsibilty to create the environment for children to have access to quality pre-schools education.

Addressing the ministerial session of the Third African International Conference on Early Childhood Education (ECD) underway in Accra, Mr Osafo Maafo said, "child access to education was not a priveledge but a component of his inalienable basic rights."

He said it was only when education had become accessibly to all African children, irrespective of difference in creed, gender and geographical location " that we as governments would not have paid mere lip service to the UN Education for All goals".

The Minister urged African countries to collaborate in the search for solutions, saying, the task to provide education for all children was enormous if tackled single-handedly.

"As individual countries, we have attained various levels of development in ECD, while some may be far advanced, others may be trailing behind with others probable yet to start.

"We should aim at pragmatic measures that will ultimately remove the disparities and draw all countries together for a definite purpose". This, the Education Minister said included taking into consideration the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS on African people, especially children.

"All our efforts will come to naught if we ignore the effects of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

"We should work towards minimising the spread of infection as a sure way of protecting our children."

Hajia Alima Mahamah, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, chaired the ceremony and endorsed the call for increased participation of fathers in early childhood care.

The conference, which is being organised by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), WHO, the World Bank, UNICEF and the Ghana Government, follows the first two held in Uganda in 1999, and Eritrea in 2002.

It is on the theme: "Moving Early Childhood Development Forward in Africa", and focussing is on three major priority areas of ensuring effective care practices with the family and community, ensuring access to quality basic services and ensuring supportive policy environment. So far, more than 300 delegates, made up of ECD experts, policy makers, political representatives from 43 African countries are participating in the five-day conference.

It aims at drawing increased political commitment to early childhood development in Africa, facilitate accelerated action at country levels and feed them into other development processes.