Nairobi, Kenya, 28 October 2021 – The Aga Khan University’s Institute for Human Development (AKU-IHD) has launched an online Early Childhood Development (ECD) Workforce Hub to advance the well-being of children and families around the world.
The Hub aims to bridge gaps that hinder children in resource-constrained and marginalised areas from achieving their potential and prevent them from being on an equal footing with their counterparts in high-resource settings. It will provide relevant information, courses and trainings to caregivers (including parents and families), frontline workers, policymakers, practitioners and others involved in early childhood development.
Recent work by UNICEF shows that ECD receives the least resources in low- and middle-income countries – with higher education getting the most resources – and has the least well-trained personnel. Greater investment in the sector is crucial to eliminate poverty and boost the holistic socio-economic development of a society.
Established through generous funding from UNICEF, the LEGO Foundation, Aga Khan Foundation, Hilton Foundation and Johnson & Johnson, the ECD Workforce Hub will focus on the most disadvantaged communities.
Chief Justice of Kenya Martha Koome said the launch of this ECD Workforce Hub is a momentous event given that it targets the advancement and protection of a vulnerable segment of our community: children.
“Now more than ever, there is a need for coordinated efforts among health, education, child protection and social protection sectors to ensure holistic support for children in the early years,” said Chief Justice Koome. “Early childhood care and development is central to the lives of every family with young children. Given the Hub’s focus on children, their caregivers and the care-giving environment, its establishment resonates with our Constitution’s vision of the family serving as the foundation of the society.”
AKU-IHD’s Director Dr Amina Abubakar said the Hub will translate scientific material into practical information which can be used to advance a more holistic model of child development:
“More than 250 million children globally, and especially in low- and middle-income countries like Kenya, are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential due to chronic poverty, [and] lack of access to health care, good nutrition and responsive care. Through this Hub we plan to train the ECD workforce to provide high quality and accessible programmes and services for the most marginalised children.”
The online platform builds on previous work undertaken by AKU-IHD since its inception in 2014 through its Hilton Phase I and II projects, World Bank Early Years Fellowship project and the UNICEF/LEGO Foundation Scaling Up Playful Parenting Project.
The Institute’s studies and interventions have demonstrated how good ECD practices have a lifelong impact on the economic, social and physical well-being of an individual and society. Arif Neky, UN Kenya Adviser on Strategic Partnerships, commended the Aga Khan University on addressing some of the existing gaps around policy transformation across the country.
“Access to technical and professional development courses will enable policymakers and practitioners, frontline workers and many other stakeholders involved in the early days of a child to have a better understanding on the science of early childhood development, particularly those from impoverished and vulnerable communities in Kenya,” he said.
The ECD Workforce Hub can be easily accessed by phone, tablet or computer. Trainings and events will be available on demand to all members. Stakeholders interested in joining the network can do so for free.
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