UNICEF Kosovo launches a new report on early childhood development: “Hand-to-hand – happy childhood”
PRISHTINA, Kosovo, 29 May 2012 - The UNICEF Office in Kosovo today launched the report on the early childhood development "Hand to hand - a happy childhood."
At the time that when political parties across Europe are occupied with providing competitive proposals for development in early childhood through electoral races, and while governments are carefully reviewing the quality and effectiveness of their national systems of education towards their development goals by 2020, in Kosovo the public debate about how to meet the needs for comprehensive development of the children aged 0-6 years has been very sluggish, emphasized in his speech Mr. Luciano Calestini, Head of UNICEF office in Kosovo.
Issues relating to access to children care institutions in rural areas, the quality of care for children in private and public gardens, nutrition practices of infants or public funding for early childhood development appears not to have found a place in the political agenda yet.
Participants at the launch of this report, where the President of Kosovo, Mrs. Jahjaga, Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Kuçi, EU special representative, Mr. Zbogar, IMF representative in Kosovo, Mr. Sulemane, and other senior representatives of Kosovo institutions. Kosovo's president, Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga, expressed willingness and support for care and greater investment in early childhood. "It takes more rapid changes in health system development, particularly in our commitment towards the children, since early childhood. Our commitment must be direct. By investing in the parent, we will invest in the children. And investing in children, we will change our present, in order to build our future, "said Mrs. Jahjaga.
President Jahjaga also pledged to further development of the education system, starting from pre-education system up to the pre-university. "Today and always, we will work to create better opportunities for our children, knowing that the future belongs to those that invest in education and care. Children are our most valuable asset, with whom we will be presented in Europe", said president Jahjaga at the end of the speech.
In support of the findings and recommendations resulting from the evaluation report from Yale University about early childhood development in Kosovo, Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo, also the minister of Justice, said that the report presents the priorities of government and all institutions in Kosovo and the commitment to early childhood and which commitment should not only be the commitment of the government of Kosovo, but for the whole Kosovo society. "The Government of Kosovo, within its development priorities, a special attention has paid to the children's education, especially early childhood, being convinced that the investment and care for children of this age, is an important segment for investment and for guaranteed success, not only in the educational system but also for the future of our country, Kosovo", said Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Kuci.
While the chairwoman of the Commission for Human Rights, Gender Equality, Missing Persons & petitions to the Assembly, Ms. Suzan Novoberdali, pledged that the issues of children's rights and their sound development will be moved forward.
"Our parliamentary Commission and Assembly of Kosovo have discussed the problems of children and their rights, but perhaps not as much as we should. Thus, as a parliamentary committee and I as a member, I will be engaged that the recommendations of this study are reflected in legislation and policies of our institutions", said Ms. Novoberdali.
Furthermore, Ms. Novoberdali said she will work in collaboration with other parliamentary members, to implement one of the most essential recommendations of this study. This recommendation has to do with drafting a national plan for development and early childhood education. "I strongly believe that such an initiative would be welcomed by government and I believe that this will be reflected in the parliamentary debate to be held on the occasion of 1 of June, the International Children’s Day", said Novoberdali.
Supported by the UNICEF office in Kosovo, the report was prepared by Edward Zigler Center of Yale University on the Child Development and Social Policies, who makes an analysis of existing policies and programs that affect the lives of young children, and provides recommendations that serve to ensure that children can develop into their full potential.
Early years of the child's life are of a great importance, when the foundation is constructed for future survival and meaningful engagement in the community as healthy and productive adults. However, usually in early childhood children are often given little attention, but most governments also share limited resources for them.
Early childhood development is a comprehensive concept that includes a focus on eligible nutrition, education and early stimulation through play and learning opportunities, and strengthens positive interactions with caregivers and other family members, in order to encourage better development in the physical, cognitive, emotional and social aspects. Providing quality services to Kosovar children at the early age means ensuring their survival, growth, protection and development, strengthening the foundations for future human capital of Kosovo, which is its biggest wealth.
According to the report "hand-to-hand - a happy childhood", a more comprehensive approach to reduce the differences between the needs of children in Kosovo and the current policies. Key recommendations emphasize support to the greater parental involvement in relation to health, education and child protection through the increase of the programs and activities for parents.
The findings of this report serve to reinforce this agenda and highlight the importance of collaborative initiatives particularly aimed to the youngest and most vulnerable population of Kosovo.
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