NEWS: Partnerships towards inclusive Early Childhood Development

June 7, 2023 | 9:36 am

Group photo during a learning workshop seeking to promote inclusive Early Childhood Development. ©Aga Khan University Photo/Maureen Ooko
By​ Maureen Ooko, Communications Officer, Aga Khan University

The Aga Khan University Institute for Human Development (IHD) is committed to promoting inclusivity in Early Childhood Development (ECD), particularly within the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) of Kenya. In pursuit of this goal, IHD organized a learning workshop in Isiolo county, targeting Civil Society Organisations, government officials and other ECD stakeholders. The workshop sought to raise awareness and foster understanding on the importance of inclusivity in early childhood development. Moreover, it aimed to bring together stakeholders working on inclusive ECD within the ASAL regions to encourage collaboration. This is in line with IHD’s goal of creating a community of practice that seeks to promote shared learning among ECD stakeholders to strengthen the impact of our work.

The ASAL regions face multiple challenges in creating a conducive environment for ECD. Additionally, children with disabilities and girls encounter greater hurdles, including direct and indirect discrimination. Through IHD’s ongoing partnership with the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) to promote ECD for all children in ASAL regions, the Institute is actively raising awareness of these issues and working with stakeholders to ensure inclusivity as they develop ECD programmes.

During the workshop, IHD Director Prof Amina Abubakar emphasized that all children have the right to non-discrimination and inclusivity should be incorporated from the early years.

“Being different should not exclude a child from the benefits of healthy child development efforts. The paramount consideration in all our endeavours should be the child’s best interest irrespective of the child’s gender or ability,” she said. “This will ensure that children achieve their full potential and are able to positively transform their communities in the long run. Additionally, while inclusive and equitable learning has traditionally focused on primary education, we assert that inclusive ECD is of vital importance. Early identification of children and their inclusion in educational and health services yield the greatest benefits. It not only enhances the children’s skills and qualifications but also improves their chances of meaningful employment in adulthood.”

The knowledge gained from the workshop will be shared with ECD stakeholders and the public through our ECD Workforce Hub. This valuable platform, generously funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the Aga Khan Foundation, works to make ECD information and resource widely accessible.

“Recognizing the vastness of the ASAL and the diverse work being undertaken, we acknowledge that no single entity can meet all the needs in this region. However, we firmly believe that everyone’s efforts, whether working directly with children, women, livestock, or climate change, ultimately impact families and children. To facilitate knowledge sharing and strengthen efforts in promoting ECD, we aim to establish a learning platform where findings, events, and webinars can be shared among stakeholders,” said Prof Amina Abubakar.