Malawi group AECDM wary over budget cut on child development

Association of Early Childhood Development (AECDM) has bemoaned 2013/14 Government’s K84 million allocation to Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes which he said is a ‘mockery’ to the whole child development.

The  association’s director, Charles Gwengwe said the allocation is a reduction from the 2012/13 K120 million provision which is not in line with the National Education Sector Plan (NESP) that demands a three percent of the government educational budget.

“According to the National Education Sector Plan (NESP), the allocation translates into an average investment totaling K2.2 billion each year until 2017 but this year’s commitment is a mock to the programme,” explained Gwengwe, adding that currently only 38 percent of Malawian children can access early childhood care.

He urged the government to invest more in the programme to ensure equal access of the programme to all children.

Ruth Makwakwa : Making her point....Photo Jeromy Kadewere/Nyasa Times
Ruth Makwakwa : Making her point….Photo Jeromy Kadewere/Nyasa Times

“Investing in young people is one great step toward poverty eradication and economic growth,” said Gwengwe, adding, “Equal access to the programme will help narrow the status gap between the poor and the rich in the country.”

AECDM Business Manager, Jacob Mtambalika said while development partners like UNICEF, USAID and AECDM are putting in place structures for early childhood development, government should rise up and maintain them.

“Government needs to maintain and renovate the ECD centers that donors are putting in place as well as provide the centers with trained care givers as currently the children are being cared for by volunteers,” Mtambalika explained.

The 2000 Education for all Dakar goals to which Malawi is a signatory, stipulates that ECD programmes should account for five percent of the national budget, according to Mtambalika.

The organisation’s official Ruth Makwakwa  said  it is disappointing to note that ECD is not considered a key priority area in 2013-2014 National Budget when over 2,000,000 children do not have access to the basic ECD services and are denied their rights from the start and the very same budget can afford to increase internal travelling to MK33 billion.

In the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by 192 nations with Malawi being one of them, guarantees the rights of young children to survive, develop and be protected.

However, the reports stressed that  out of over 3.7 million children below 5 years of age, only 1,057,705 children in Malawi have access to ECD services implying that many children are deprived of these rights.

Malawi has 9,783 ECD centre’s in 28 districts and there are 26,800 caregivers, of which only 14,700 are trained.

Gwengwe making his case.-Photo by Jeromy Kadewere
Gwengwe making his case.-Photo by Jeromy Kadewere

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