National Plan of Action sets new standards for early childhood care in Georgia
TBILISI, Georgia, 16 August 2008 - The National Strategic Plan of Action for Early Childhood Development was recently launched by the Government of Georgia in partnership with UNICEF. The Action Plan aims to provide an overarching framework for Georgian children’s health and education, underlining their developmental needs in both health and educational spheres.
“Over the last years Georgia has tried to develop policies and programmes in line with international standards,” said Giorgi Tsereteli, Vice-Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Chair of the Early Childhood Alliance. “Without improving the situation of children it will not be possible to eliminate poverty, and improve the quality of life for our population.”
The National Alliance on Early Childhood Development, which was established by the Health and Social Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia and UNICEF, will lead the overall implementation of the Action Plan.
“UNICEF is actively collaborating with the National Alliance to ensure full integration of early child development principles into the plans,” said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “This approach takes into account a wide range of children’s needs: healthcare, nutrition, clean water and sanitation, psychosocial care and early learning. In addition, children also need protection from violence, exploitation and discrimination.”
In Georgia, like in the rest of the former soviet republics, psychosocial development continues to be a weak area that in early childhood care. All children aged 0-3 in the country are entitled to patronage visits from doctors and nurses. But these visits mainly focus on the physical development of the child. There is no mechanism in place to assess beyond children's physical development, nor the achievement of main developmental milestones, or screening for abuse, neglect and mental health issues.
The new Plan of Action ensures that such patronage visits will incorporate education of parents on the importance of early childhood development. They will be educated on the importance of early stimulation, social interaction, healthy nutrition and timely immunization. The visit will also provide opportunity to detect early signs of abuse and neglect.
In Georgia, only 44 per cent of children attend pre-school. The Plan of Action envisages a high quality pre-school education in Georgia: setting standards for childcare and pre-schools, rehabilitating kindergartens, designing a new curriculum, and enhancing skills of childcare personnel.
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