Early childhood, which spans the period up to 8 years of age, is critical for cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. During these years, a child’s newly developing brain is highly plastic and responsive to change as billions of integrated neural circuits are established through the interaction of genetics, environment and experience. Optimal brain development requires a stimulating environment, adequate nutrients and social interaction with attentive caregivers. Unsafe conditions, negative interactions and lack of educational opportunities during these early years can lead to irreversible outcomes, which can affect a child’s potential for the remainder of his or her life Good nutrition plays a crucial role during formative years when there is rapid brain development in children. My administration is cognisant of this and we have an active school feeding programme in our Early Childhood Education Centres (ECDEs).
Today, I flagged off 5,500 bags of fortified porridge flour to 503 stand alone ECDEs. The remaining, which are Integrated to Primary Schools, will receive their batch in the next three weeks.
The flour is highly nutritive and is blended with 21 minerals to help curb malnutrition. This programme has been instrumental in driving my agenda for education with ECDEs registering a record high in enrollment, retention and transition rates.
Last month, my Government recruited 710 ECDE teachers adding to the 829 already in the service