Inaugural Early Childhood Development Conference begins in Nairobi, Kenya.
Over 45 countries and 500 participants gather to support enhancing and developing early childhood services in Africa #Istand4children #AfECN2018’The Africa We Want – A Better Future Now’ is supported by Open Society Foundations, UNICEF, World Forum Foundation, ELP, Hilton Foundation, CIFF and Bernard Von Leer Foundation
Representatives from over 45 countries in Africa convene today in Nairobi to discuss one of the greatest challenges, and opportunities, facing the continent: how to support the proper nurturing of children during the most pivotal days of their lives. This historic event on early childhood development, taking place from October 17 – 19 and entitled “The Africa We Want: A Better Future Now” will involve over 500 participants from all over Sub Saharan Africa including government ministers, African Union delegates, NGOs, and regional and local practitioners.
Lynette Okengo, Executive Director of the Africa Early Childhood Network, which is organizing this historic event, said: “By 2050, more than 40 per cent of the children in the world will live in Africa. This population growth offers an economic opportunity for Africa but reaping the benefits of this demographic dividend can only be achieved by nurturing children in the early stages of their development. We must ensure that our children not only survive, but thrive”
Early childhood development is one of the most pressing issues facing the African continent today. Research shows that over 90 per cent of a child’s brain develops by the time they reach age five. In Sub Saharan Africa, 66 per cent of children under the age of 5 risk failing to reach their developmental potential because of poverty, poor health and nutrition, and lack of early stimulation.
“The Africa We Want: A Better Future Now” aims to strengthen advocacy for holistic approaches to early childhood development. It will see the launch of the African Union Commission’s Early Childhood Education and Development Cluster roadmap, and provide a platform to discuss the Nurturing Care Framework, launched during the World Health Assembly in May. With a program of interactive sessions, enlightening talks and inspiring debates this event will provide an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge and the development of skills, with a strong focus on strengthening partnerships and building new collaborations.
Lynette Okengo, Executive Director of the Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN), says:
“The huge participation in this event, including everyone from high level Kenyan delegates to early childhood practitioners – from Mozambique to Liberia to Ethiopia – shows that early childhood development is truly on the agenda in Africa. If we are to reach our Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 we need a fully rounded approach to supporting children, families and communities.”