A more recent study of the World Bank has urged governments especially in developing countries to invest in early childhood learning as a way of bracing up for impending life difficulties and attendant social and economic implications resulting from what it described as the changing nature of work around the globe owing in part to the speed of innovation which evidently impacts every aspect of life.
It says that quality early childhood development programs enable children to learn and that as such investments in nutrition, health, and stimulation in the first thousand days of life build stronger brains. To substantiate this, it was explained that the architecture of the brain forms from the prenatal period to age five (5), and so that makes it an important stage for developing cognitive and socio -behavioral skills during which period the brain’s ability to learn is at its highest.
Malefshwane Mauco, President of Autism Botswana (A.B.), lamented that despite the World Bank’s study findings, efforts at early childhood development are unlikely to achieve the desired results for as long as existing systems especially in the Health sector have gone on leave in terms of identifying the state of children’s intellectual abilities at a much earlier stage so as to determine any sign of developmental delay, and therefore appropriate remedial interventions.
It has been established that between age 2 and 6 children are able to memorize 10 000 words per day in their normal state of mental development, but in the absence of proper and timely identification processes, any apparent anomalies later discovered may be difficult to reverse or costly to relieve.
“Unfortunately in the present circumstances it would appear there is no such capacity on the part of government for early identification,” posited Mauco, citing a chart in the medical health card which entails several aspects of developmental progress for monitoring milestones.
For example it shows that at 3-6 months a child should be checked by looking at them and sees if they do smile failing which, it should count to some deficit that must be attended in time. This part of the card unfortunately is never filled, partly owing to shortage of personnel and other resources.
In this regard A.B. Chief has pointed out that a study conducted in partnership with the European Union has revealed that a lot of children only get to be recognized as having developmental challenges once they start schooling. But the limitation of capacity and resources is such that even if discovered in time provision has not cannot be made to tackle the situation.
Hence, Mauco concurs fully with the idea of investing in early childhood learning is considered both as an opportunity for uplifting children from the underprivileged families to gain an edge so as to compete fairly with their affluent counterparts and ultimately graduate from the poverty bracket, and at the same time to prepare future generations for a whole new work arrangement that will certainly demand of them, completely new skills most of which currently do not exist.
In addition, the engagement of parents and caregivers during this phase also matters for the development of children’s language skills, motor and self regulation skills, as well as social behavior. A range of examples including countries across different regions of the globe are cited to demonstrate how early childhood programs have proved highly beneficial in contributing to a renewed hope about the potential attainability of the national economic projections of those countries based on the level of development of their “budding” asset of future workforce.
To show the gravity of the situation, the outgoing President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim, had this to say, “It should be understood that the scope of the challenge is such that most of the children who are currently doing their primary school now, post tertiary, they will be doing jobs as adults which at the moment do not exist and therefore need new skills compatible with the dictates of time.”