Achieving Sustainable Development Goals through Early Childhood Development Print E-mail
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Thursday, 18 May 2017 00:00

UNICEF in collaboration with the ministries of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture; Health, and Human Development, Social Transformation, and Poverty Alleviation is holding a two-day conference at the Princess Ramada Hotel on May 16 and 17, 2017. The conference is focusing on Early Childhood Development (ECD) as a vital faucet of achieving our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as described in the 2017-2030 Agenda. The participants had the pleasure of hearing from a variety of key players during the two day event who conveyed prominent information in the field. Teachers and educators alike were given the platform to learn how to achieve better results beyond education given our very limited financial resources.

According to Hon. Anthony Martinez, Minister of Human Development, Social Transformation, and Poverty Alleviation, the highest yield of our limited resources need to be allocated to the smallest citizens that they may have the best start in life. Just as one invests time, money, and energy into developing a firm foundation of a building, so too does the government and other private and public entities need to invest in the development of our children and country. The family’s role is critical and it is the responsibility of the government to assist the family in conducting its responsibilities. “Groundworks have been implemented and it is time to start the work,” said Hon. Martinez as he encouraged those present to stay the course.

The role of UNICEF has always been to ensure that the livelihoods of children and the poor are as comfortable and productive as possible and their role in this conference was no different. Denise Robateau, ECD and Education Officer, UNICEF, reaffirmed just that. All levels of education are to receive attention but early education deserves some special attention. Apart from education, UNICEF focuses on the health and nutrition of the children that are less fortunate and develop programs and policies that protect and benefit children in poverty. In July 2017, according to Robateau, Belize will submit a voluntary report to UNICEF of its SDGs to assist in the advocacy and policy making that benefit women, youth, and children. UNICEF’s involvement in the conference, and the collaboration of the three Belizean ministries, is committed to ensuring that SDGs across all sectors.

To achieve those SDGs and proper ECD, the Lancet Series of a journal published by the World Health Organization brings “Science to Scale”. In the world, there is an estimated 250 million children at risk of not achieving their full human potential; they are at risk of becoming liabilities to the society rather than assets and will be unable to contribute to the wellbeing of their country. Throughout the years, childhood mortality has decreased by 50%. While more children are living, their quality of life and the environments they grow up in have not been productive. According to Dr. Zoyah Kinkhead-Clark, UWI Jamaica, as low as fifty cents per child a year can eliminate the chances of liability and get on track to achieving SDGs  through ECD. There is the need for multi-sectorial support and the alignment of political wants with social needs. To break intergenerational cycles of poverty, ECD needs to be the focus of professionals as well as parents: they have the task of implementing policy developed. All the results are based on scientific research and evidence. The conference focuses on the wholistic development of the child.