When the Nurturing Care Framework for Early Childhood Development (ECD) was launched in 2018, one major focus was on supporting and influencing government policymakers, in order that holistic child development was included in policies, and then funded and implemented in countries.
The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Human Development (AKU-IHD) therefore embarked on a journey, with support from the Hilton Foundation and Lego Foundation, to develop ECD champions around the world among government policymakers (local and national government officials and decision makers). This way, these ECD champions would be able to support and scale ‘Nurturing Care’ in their countries! Sweta Shah, AKF’s Global Lead for ECD said:
“Since the launching of the Nurturing Care Framework, many governments around the world became more open to establishing policies and financing Early Childhood Development. But they also said they need support to make that happen. The ECD Policy Makers workshop therefore responds to this need. It helps policy makers gain a deeper understanding of what is ECD and nurturing care and how to develop policies for these areas.”
Focusing on influencing government policymakers is a key element of the ECD Workforce Development Hub that will soon be launched by AKU-IHD. Amina Abubakar, the Director of AKU-IHD, said:
“ECD stakeholders came together and have been discussing for a few years how to bridge the divide between global tools and lessons learned and implementation and scale in countries. Key ECD stakeholders at the global level agreed that whatever was established be nimble, flexible, and rooted in the global south. AKU-IHD therefore developed, in partnership with other ECD stakeholders, the ECD Workforce Development Hub. The Hub aims to provide technical support to governments, front line workers and communities, NGOs and CBOs and universities that want to integrate nurturing care into their programs. The Hub will initially focus on East Africa.”
“Since the launching of the Nurturing Care Framework, many governments around the world became more open to establishing policies and financing Early Childhood Development. But they also said they need support to make that happen.”
AKF Global ECD Lead
As part of the ECD Workforce Development Hub, AKF and AKU-IHD have developed a course called “ECD: A Critical Investment”. Known also as the ECD policymakers’ workshop, the course can be used for in-person, virtual or through a blended format. Based on the modality of the workshop and the capacity level of the policymaker, the course can last less than two hours or longer, more comprehensive workshops that take up to three days.
A pilot of the first in-person version of the workshop – conducted in Siaya County, Kenya in partnership with PATH and the Hilton Foundation – brought together the Governor, the First Lady, and key decision-makers from the departments of education, child and social protection, health, nutrition, and agriculture. At the end of the three days the group created an action plan which will help policymakers begin scaling Nurturing Care in Siaya County.
Through the workshop, the First Lady of Siaya County, Mrs. Rosella Rasanga, became an ECD champion and ambassador for Siaya and for her country. She asked for the workshop to be delivered to an association of First Ladies in Kenya. The in-person version has also now been adapted and used in multiple localities across Kenya, as well as in India, Syria, Tajikistan and Tanzania and will soon be rolled out in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan with the support of AKF and the Government of Canada. Further, the materials of the workshop have been translated into Arabic, Portuguese, Tajik, Hindi and Urdu languages.
Of course, as with nearly all education worldwide, the pandemic ensured that a virtual version of the workshop was developed, and this is now ready for use and can be accessed for free.
Through this work targeting policymakers and government departments, new ECD champions are now emerging, ready to scale these initiatives across their countries. In so doing, AKF and its partners aim to ensure that policymakers are equipped with the tools necessary to ensure a better future for generations to come.