EDUCATION

Parliament to support early childhood care laws

Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah (PHOTO /File)

KAMPALA– Pre-Primary Teacher Training Institutions’ Association-Uganda (PPTIA) has asked the Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, to cause government to establish a formidable and credible policy that will lead to the establishment of an Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Act.

The Executive Committee of the Association argues that the ECCE has a huge stake in the education sector of the country, and yet it has not been given the due attention.

While presenting a petition to the Speaker on 21 December 2021 at Parliament, the PPTIA wants government to stay the National Teachers’ Policy Section related to ECCE because Uganda is not yet ready to implement such a policy.

“Save for only the learning framework and training framework, there is lack of standardised ECCE teaching-learning material in form of teachers’ guides, resource books, pupils’ books, students’ textbooks and other reference books. Most of the learning centres and training institutions use improvised teaching-learning material,” said Robert Odong, Secretary General PPTIA.

The petitioners further urged government to come up with a deliberate policy to sponsor students interested in training in any ECCE programmes.

“This will motivate students to take on ECCE programmes, henceforth we shall have more teachers to support the huge number of children who need ECCE services in our country,” Odong said.

The petition also calls on government to establish an enabling policy framework to fulfill Sustainable Development Goal 4, Module 2 which talks about universal early childhood care, development and pre-primary education.

“The development of children in the age bracket of zero to eight years is fundamental for physical, intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual development; if we are ever going to achieve our Vision 2040, we must invest adequately in our children,” read the petition in part.

According to Odong, only a tenth of children between three to five years are enrolled in formal pre-primary education, adding that Preschools are predominantly privately-run and located in urban areas.

Woman MP, Napak district, Hon Faith Nakut, said that Parliament should prioritise resolving issues affecting children, noting that every child deserves a better quality of education and life.

“The solutions are within Parliament and that is why we came. There are over 300,000 girls who are pregnant as a result of COVID-19. That is just a new batch in addition to the routine ones,” she said.

Oulanyah reassured the petitioners of his commitment towards improved early childhood development and education.

“In the case of early childhood development, we have been pushing but there seems to be no recognition and there has been reluctance with bringing this on board,” he said.

Oulanyah also advised the Association to make a detailed petition with sufficient statistics and facts regarding the status of ECCE and required interventions.

“We shall process the petition but as you come to appear before the committee you must be thorough. What have you suggested apart from general policy so that Parliament can engage and start the process of formulating better laws and policies,” he said.

He said that this will be the first holistic debate about early childhood development.

“We shall wait for government to take action and if they do not do it the first time, we shall do it. We shall will not give up until they listen,” Oulanyah said.

The Speaker, however, raised concern over the manner in which pre-primary schools are currently run, saying that some parents enroll their children in boarding schools at an early age.

“The problem with Ugandans is that when they pick up something, they overdo it. I was very shocked to learn that these days we have boarding nursery schools, how does it work, what is happening to parenting?” Oulanyah wondered.

He called for proper definition of early childhood development and education, in order to find a lasting solution to the challenges.

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