The Northern Regional Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Committee has held its maiden meeting to draw an action plan for the next year as well as compile data on ECCD centres in the region for improved care for children.
The meeting was also to formulate a checklist for monitoring and evaluation of ECCD centres in the region, to ensure that they comply with appropriate standards for the benefit of children.
The day’s meeting held in Tamale, saw representatives of the Tamale Metropolitan Directorate of Department of Social Welfare, and the Sagnarigu Municipal Directorate of the Department of Social Welfare brief the Committee on the status of ECCD centres within their jurisdictions, while representatives of Children Believe, an international NGO, also briefed the Committee on its activities related to ECCD.
Major issues that came up for discussion during the meeting included data from the various assemblies on enrolment at ECCD level in the region, availability of age-appropriate infrastructure at ECCD level, data on trained and untrained teachers at ECCD level, whether or not the ECCD centres qualify as ECCD centres as per the ECCD Policy amongst others.
Mr Sanday Iddrisu, Chairman of the ECCD Committee said the ECCD Committee would begin to plan in terms of getting duty-bearers at the various assemblies to pay more attention to issues related to ECCD within their jurisdictions.
The ECCD Committee was inaugurated in August this year to amongst others help improve ECCD and promote the welfare of children in the region. The Membership of the Committee comprised the Regional Coordinating Director, Regional Directors of Health, Education, Departments of Children, Social Welfare and Community Development, Community Water & Sanitation Agency, two representatives of NGOs working for children at the regional level, a representative of ECCD service providers and two media practitioners.
Mr Iddrisu, who is also Northern Regional Director of the Department of Children, said “We are also looking at advocacy at the regional and district levels involving the private sector and other organisations to contribute to uplifting the status of ECCD in the region”.
He said “We also want to see especially at the public schools that there are attendants in addition to teachers at the kindergartens to take care of the children. It is not for nothing that most trained ECCD teachers do not want to teach at the ECCD level. It is because sometimes, they do not see taking care of the children as their responsibility. In view of this, how will government complement their efforts by providing attendants to attend to these children at the public kindergartens.”
He added that the ECCD Committee would also intensify monitoring at the ECCD centres to see how they treated the children under their care adding “It was our interest to ensure that the children are safe at those facilities”.
Madam Esther Boateng, Northern Regional Programmes Manager of ActionAid Ghana, emphasised need for a model kindergarten/ECCD centre in every district in the region, which would be the standard for others to emulate for improved care for children.
Mr William Anim-Dankwa, Communications Manager of Children Believe, lauded the work of the Committee, saying once the institutions such as Ghana Education Service and the Ghana Health Service at the various assemblies in the region began to work together, it will go a long way to support the ECCD sector to improve.
Mr Anin-Dankwa reiterated the need for government to invest more in ECCD sector to improve the sector.