By Tatenda Mujeyi

Zimbabwe today hosted SADC members of Parliament in a workshop aimed at availing platforms for sharing knowledge and proffering strategies for Early Childhood Development ECD.

The workshop which was coordinated by Zimbabwe Network on Early Childhood Development Actors (ZINECDA) in partnership with SADC Parliamentary Forum availed an opportunity to assess the challenges and potential solutions to ECD in the region.

The workshop highlighted existent challenges within ECD as including policy, budgetary constraints, human resource, donor dependency among other issues.

“As African countries we need to introspect on the challenges that affect ECD in the region and proffer solutions. As recurrently being emphasised here by all participating SADC member states are facing budgetary, policy and legislative constraints in their efforts to address the challenges affecting ECD.”Mr Pepukai Chivore, Director for the Budget Office in the Parliament of Zimbabwe said.

The workshop called for an inclusive approach in dealing with ECD issues by all stakeholders to complement government efforts.

“Government’s solitary efforts will never be enough to offset the demands to enhance ECD. There is need for families, communities, religious fraternities, CSOs and the media to put central issues related to ECD.” Zimbabwe’s Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary education Hon Torerai Moyo said.

The Research Consultant, Juliana Seleti emphasised the need for African countries to deviate from the orthodox ideas of dependency and structure local funding streams and in turn while castigating government stance on Tax holidays that deprived locals total benefits from their country.

Participating SADC PF member states were urged to embrace the lessons learnt from the workshop and negotiate for their adoption by SADC and individual member States.

“The workshop can be argued as an eye opener to us all as we seek to learn from each other as SADC member states. Key take away’s can be viewed as budgetary inclusion of ECD, recognition of the 1000 day ECD cycle, rural population inclusion, Call for Tax systems that enhance local and ECD. With this in mind we should develop national strategies that embrace ECD.” ZINECDA National Coordinator Naison Bhunu said.

ECD remains an important part of the education sector to that has arguably not realised a fair share of attention despite it’s importance in shaping the complete educational capabilities of scholars.