Child Development and Education are crucial elements in ensuring that children achieve their rights, particularly their right to personal development. Early Childhood Development (ECD) is a new area of interest and activity for UNICEF in Bangladesh.
Over recent decades, families, service providers and policymakers have seen the survival and physical development of young children as their first concern. Only recently have they started to recognise that it is just as important to research and intervene in other aspects of children’s lives, such as their cognitive, emotional and social development.
Children are usually cared for by several members of their family, but mothers are generally the primary carers. There are many positive practices in the care of young children in Bangladesh, but there are also important gaps in what many families know and understand about childcare. A Knowledge, Attitude and Practise (KAP) survey carried out in 2001 highlighted the need for an ECD project in Bangladesh. This indicated that most caregivers do not know enough about the importance of nurturing and age-appropriate early learning in early childhood development, according to 12 guiding principles identified for ECD in Bangladesh. These principles are:
1. The objective of early childhood intervention is to establish a foundation for life-long learning.
2. Children's two basic developmental needs are, on the one hand, love and acceptance, and on the other, exploration, activity and expression as independent beings.
3. Every child should have the opportunity for participation in family and other social environments like pre-school, day care centres, etc.
4. Areas of development are intertwined, as they make up the whole child.
5. Through play, children practice skills they have acquired and learn new ones.
6. Providing a stimulating environment is the key to learning and development.
7. Interest, praise and encouragement from adults is very important to children.
8. For young children, it is the process of creating that is important, not the product. In other words, process is more important than product.
9. The basic needs of child development go beyond protection, food, and healthcare and include the need for affection, interaction, stimulation, security, and play, allowing for exploration and discovery.
10. Every child is unique. Two children of the same age are not exactly alike, and every child has an individual learning style.
11. It is essential to create equal opportunities for both girl and boy children for their maximum development.
12. Cultural appropriateness is a major criterion for a successful child development programme.