Botswana is a step closer to the advancement of early childhood development.
The country reached a milestone by launching the Play and Stimulation Group Guidelines together with a Facilitators Guide on October 6.
Speaking at the official launch of the Structured Play and Stimulation Group Guiding Framework, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja, said the initiative recognizes that the first 8 years of life are of utmost importance for the cognitive, social, emotional and physical development of any human being.
“The initiative we are launching here today is a response to the plight of our rural and marginalized communities whose challenge is lack of access to early childhood and development services,” Keaja said.
The idea behind the structured Play and Stimulation Group guidelines is to provide guidance and support to communities in establishing and managing successful structured play and stimulation groups for children. The initiative is expected to avail affordable, developmentally appropriate and culturally sensitive interventions to help the care and stimulation of young children where resources are limited.
Keaja added that the guidelines are expected to increase access to care and education services for children aged one to six years of age through sessional care and education. “These guidelines and toolkit are particularly targeted at children in remote area settlements and other vulnerable communities where access to daycare centres/ nurseries/ preschools/ kindergartens remains limited,” the permanent secretary said.
Keaja’s ministry in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Project Concern International (PCI), the Ministry of Basic Education and the Ministry of Health and Wellness were all involved in finalizing the development of the overdue guidelines.
The two documents carry extensive knowledge on how a child’s learning experience can be enriched, with set out schedules on when teachers or parents should carry out stimulating activities.
PCI country director Dorothy Tlagae in the guideline’s acknowledgements said that giving children the best start to life is one of the most important responsibilities that communities and families are required to perform to meet children developmental and survival needs. Recognizing this will reduce morbidity and mortality overcome poverty, while creating well-rounded individuals with a balanced self-concept, and ultimately build strong families and self-sustained communities. Tlagae added that the overall goal of the guidelines is for service providers to provide support and capacity to practitioners desiring to provide early childhood services.