Launch of campaign on early childhood care and stimulation in Moldova
“Together”: Partnership for a better start in life
By Nicoleta Panţa
30 October 2006 - In Moldova over 150, 000 children have one or both parents working abroad and so many are missing out on the interpersonal communication that comes from daily interaction with their parents and families. For children under the age of 3 whose parents are living at home, physical and verbal expressions of affection, conversation and other activities that support language and intellectual development and social and emotional wellbeing, can still be missing from their lives. This is due to two widely-held misconceptions: that a small child can understand very little and that hugging results in the spoiling of a child.
According to a 2004 national study, 1 in 4 Moldovan children aged 3-4 could not name a colour, and 1 in 10 six-year-olds could not name a simple geometric shape. It was observed that this could be a result of a poor learning environment in the home. Two-thirds of questioned parents did not read to their children nor tell them a bedtime story, and 20 per cent of parents didn’t play with their children because of lack of time and knowledge of the importance of play for the development of a child.
Because of young children’s rapidly evolving abilities, interaction and play are of critical importance in laying the foundations for future learning. In view of this, the Moldovan Ministries of Education and Youth and Health and Social Protection in partnership with the Moldovan Orthodox Church and UNICEF, have launched a National Campaign for Early Childhood Development called “Together”.
“It is the first time in Moldova that such a ground-breaking partnership in the social sector has been created,” said UNICEF Representative, Ray Virgilio Torres, “the Moldovan Government together with the Moldovan Orthodox Church, NGOs and representatives of the private sector, have joined hands to bring up healthier and happier children in Moldova”.
The campaign aims to change the behaviour of families with small children. Caregivers of children under three years of age will be encouraged by a range of community actors - mayors, doctors, teachers, educators and church and other respected leaders to talk to their children, play with them, hug them and read to them daily from the first month of their life.
“A child learns from the parents, that is why what the child hears, sees and feels in the first three years of life will impact directly his/her future” said Deputy Minister of Education and Youth, Valentin Crudu. “Child development must become a priority of every family and community. This is the message we want to reach every family with small children in Moldova,” he added.
Books and posters have been distributed widely to families across the country along with 150,000 picture frames for family photographs. The advocacy campaign has a strong media component. Local stars and their small children recorded video spots and a song for broadcast to spread the message into as many homes as possible.
With input from local NGOs and the Educational Progamme “Step by Step”, more than 800 mayors and community leaders and nearly 3,000 health workers and educators were trained in promoting the campaign’s key messages, in this initial phase of the campaign.
Older children are also participating in the campaign. For one hour on the 20 October, children in primary schools across the country learnt about the importance of a child's early years and their role in supporting the development of their younger brothers and sisters.
“Today every child made a book for his/her younger brother or sister. We learnt how important it is to be hugged and to hug, to read and to have someone to read to you, to talk and to have someone to talk to you. Today after school I will go home and hug my brother many many times… since I am older than he is … and when Mummy comes I will tell her, as well as Daddy, how important it is to talk to us and hug us children. Also, as my homework, I will pick a picture of my family together with my father and grandparents, and stick it in the photo frame we got during our special hour in school.” - Anişoara Negură, 9 years old.
On October 20, Anisoara – like every other Moldovan child in grades I-IV – was in a hurry to get home. She wanted to show her family the book she had made. She also wanted to tell her parents what they could do to help her little brother grow strong, free and clever!
The Together campaign, has been carefully developed using the Communication for Behaviour Impact (COMBI) approach. Launched in October 2006, the media campaign will run until February 2007 while the community mobilization and inter-personal training by frontline workers will continue for a year, until September 2007.
Resources on education and early childhood
EFA Global Monitoring Report 2007