Ministry of Gender Children, Disabilities and Social Welfare director for child affairs McKnight Kalanda says the $60 million (about K44.4 billion) World Bank grant for early childhood development (ECD) will benefit the country.
He said in an interview on Tuesday that although things have improved in the area, there is a lot to be done.
Said Kalanda: “Currently we are negotiating with the World Bank on the $60 million worth initiative. We are optimistic of funding because we performed well in a previous $2 million programme funded by the same World Bank called protecting early childhood. After seeing our success, it wasn’t difficult to enter a discussion with them on this one.”
Malawi launched the first national ECD policy in 2003 with the aim of promoting the provision of high quality services to children to ensure their survival, growth and development that would lead to their active participation in national development.
As government commemorates ECD week, from 22 October, it is expected to launch a second phase of the policy to replace the outdated one.
According to Kalanda, they are happy that the first phase was a success. Over 2 000 caregivers were trained annually for five years and ECD materials and guidelines were developed.
On the continent, Malawi is second to Kenya on managing well ECD activities even though it has a challenge to reach 53 percent of the child population.
In the past, ECD had the least budget. In the current budget it has been allocated K700 million compared to K50 million it was allocated five years ago.
If the World Bank grant is provided, it is expected to be rolled out in 13 districts by March 2019 where 25 modern ECD centres will be constructed for over a five-year period.
Save the Children, one of the organisations championing ECD in the country, hailed the negotiation and the expected grant, saying their zeal for early childhood development will spread.
Save the Children senior manager for education in child development Ruth Kawale said the development is good as they aim at reaching out to many.
“To us ECD is very important, we want every child and those most deprived to access quality basic education, which starts with ECD, coming in of World Bank is a very good development,” she said.