Uganda Child Rights NGO Network in conjunction with other childcare organizations early last week organized and held a two-day national child rights convention and learning event at Silver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi. The event, which was held on Monday, June 13 and Tuesday, June 14, 2016, ran under the theme ‘Collectively ending violence against children’ and was opened by the Guest of Honor, First Lady of Uganda, Janet Kataha Museveni, who is also a strong advocate of children’s rights.
“There have been a number of interventions taken by Government of Uganda that have been aimed at targeting children affected by violence. These have focused on prevention, response and management and rehabilitation of children and have taken on the form of direct projects research and advocacy.
It’s against this background that UCRNN and its partners have convened this national learning event to discuss the impact of these interventions on the long term efforts to end all forms of violence against children focusing particularly on children’s experiences with these interventions and receiving their feedback to develop a robust national strategy,” said Olive Birungi Lumonya, National Director SOS Children’s Villages Uganda and Chairperson Board of Directors, Uganda Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN) during her opening remarks.
The ongoing closure of schools has presented an advantage to Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Child Nurturing which had been greatly abused in the recent past. This is according to Elizabeth Kisakye, the Senior Education Officer in charge of Early Childhood Development at the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Kisakye notes that whereas Early Childhood Development is critical in the wellbeing, and future holistic development of the child, it had been focused on classroom learning where pre-schoolers are forced to cram numeracy and literacy.
She says that with the advent of nursery schools, Early Childhood Development was poorly defined and limited to formal learning that even when the ministry developed a learning framework for children at this level, it was ignored.
“The Covid- 19 lockdown has placed the children where they belong. The parents can now ensure that they help the development of their children’s capabilities, health, physical growth, and good social habits. Ideally, this is what must be happening,” Kisakye notes.
Kisakye, also a child psychologist, says that bad early childhood education has negatively influenced children’s brain development. “Imagine, this young one between two to six years wakes up at 5 a.m. and return home late in the evening. Subjected to routine and rules.”
Fagyl Mande, a senior educationist, shares a similar perspective stressing that the infants are being put off the pressure and getting time to stay with their parents to learn life skills and values which will be of great importance at their next stage of development.
He notes that besides the ‘hyped madness’ of taking young children to school for early schooling, the ideal early childhood development should take place at home with parents giving the prime guidance and supervision. He adds that the lockdown has placed everything into normalcy with parents reclaiming their roles in child naturing.
Indeed the experience is good even in the eyes of the children. Gideon Mwanja, a seven-year-old of two working-class parents from Ntinda is excited about the experience. The joyful boy shares that he had never spent that much time with his parents.
However, to some parents spending all that long with children at home has been a nightmare. Diana Akello, a mother of two children all below eight, says that although she was also excited by having her children at home, she later discovered that it a difficult task and wish schools reopen.