New Nurturing Care Parenting programme gives children the best start in life
New Nurturing Care Parenting programme rolled out by Ministry of Education, UNICEF and partners in Kratie, improving every child's first thousand days
“I’ve learnt just how important the first thousand days of a child’s life are, from inside the womb until they are two,” says Wen Savin, focal point for the Da Commune Committee for Women and Children, in Cambodia’s northern Kratie province. “If children get the right care and stimulation during this time, they grow up healthy and able to learn.”
Savin has recently been trained to deliver Nurturing Care Parenting sessions, a new programme being rolled out in Cambodia, led by the Ministry of Education and supported by other key Ministries and development partners like UNICEF. The new programme brings together several existing training courses addressing different aspects that contribute to a good start in life, including immunisation and healthcare, early education and play, positive parenting without use of violence, and good hygiene and sanitation. Having attended the course, Savin is now able to pass on her knowledge to the parents and caregivers in her community.
“I have always loved to help people, especially children and women,” says Savin, who has now been in her job for six months. “When I was sixteen, I started volunteering for my community, and now I am very happy to focus so much of my energy on children. Children are incredibly important in helping our communities and our society thrive. As the Cambodian proverb says, they are the new bamboo shoots which will become the future bamboo.”
“Investing in early childhood development is one of the best investments a country can make to boost economic growth, promote peaceful and sustainable societies, and eliminate extreme poverty and inequality,” said Dr. Anirban Chatterjee, addressing a summit launching the Early Childhood Care and Development Kratie Provincial Plan. Through this plan, Kratie will be one of the provinces taking the lead in Nurturing Care Parenting.
“The provision of Nurturing Care services - including health, nutrition, opportunities for early learning, safe environment, security, and responsive caregiving - are essential interventions to promote brain development and a healthy growth,” Dr. Chatterjee continued. “Enabling young children to make the best start in life requires collaboration across sectors and integration of services, as well as the participation of parents and caregivers.”
Savin agrees and is determined to make sure her knowledge about early childhood care is passed on to parents in her community. However, she is also aware that there are challenges. “Some parents are very busy with farming rice or running small businesses, and they can’t always come along to training sessions we organise. Sometimes mothers work all day and leave their children with grandparents or neighbours so they struggle with some things, such as breastfeeding. That’s why we try to involve these other caregivers in the sessions too. I also follow up with parents and answer questions and make sure they know about important appointments, like vaccinations.”
One of those parents is Met Samet, 41, and a mother of four. She recently attended a training session specifically around positive parenting and how to discipline children without use of violence. “It has really changed my approach,” she says with a smile, while playing with Rachhy , her very energetic four-year-old.
“My oldest boy is 18 now and I have to admit that sometimes I disciplined him with force. I try not to do that with this young one. He is very headstrong, but I try to always speak kindly with him. Softer discipline is better than violence, because children will learn from what they experience, and they won’t be violent to others.”
She says that the support from the commune focal point has helped her become a better parent in other ways. “I care more about what my children are doing with their time, I pay more attention to them. I would like our family to be good role models, with good kids who show respect to others. And I hope that good parenting can help me guide them to have good lives with good jobs.”
Savin is delighted with the family's progress and proud of the role she has played in supporting them and will be able to do even more effectively in the future, thanks to her Nurturing Care Parenting skills. “In the future I want to see all children growing up with good health and good education, with parents who have the right skills to raise their kids. Every child deserves to have this future.”