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UNICEF, government and development partners call for the best start in life for children

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Investing in early childhood yields high economic returns and breaks cycles of poverty

Nay Pyi Taw, 8 July 2014 – Myanmar’s first ever multi-sectoral policy on Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD), was launched today in Nay Pyi Taw.  The launching of this policy is the first firm step toward mobilizing more resources across Ministries for support to early childhood development, and a crucial measure in tackling child poverty and reducing inequalities.

The launch was attended by Union Ministers, Deputy Ministers and high level officials from the key Ministries who will be responsible for this multi-sectoral approach to early childhood care and development, as well as by Chairs from the Parliamentary Affairs Committees of both Pyithu Hluttaw and Amyotha Hluttaw.  In addition, participants included UN agencies, development partners, international and local non-governmental organizations, faith based organizations, media, and civil society organizations representing ethnic groups and persons with disabilities, parents and children.

“The future of these children depends on the implementation of ECCD activities which are not just about the quantity but also the quality of services” stated H.E President U Thein Sein, of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, in the preface of the Policy.

Investment in ECCD is the most cost-effective way for governments to invest in national development because it yields high economic returns and can offset economic inequality. Yet Myanmar currently has a very low level of investment in this sector. The Department of Social Welfare spends only 10% of its total budget (0.14% of total government budget) on ECCD and much less is invested currently by the Ministry of Education. While ASEAN countries have achieved 57% in ECCD service coverage, Myanmar has achieved only 22.9% coverage, with a great gap between services for urban and rural areas, 39.1% and 15.9% respectively. The ECCD Policy calls for greatly increased budgets in all ECCD sectors on a phased basis.

H.E. Dr. Myat Myat Ohn Khin, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MoSWRR) urged: “Invest more in early childhood so that we can fully achieve the vision, mission and objectives collectively agreed upon for our young children.”

This policy calls for increasing government investment in early childhood services. By 2020, 28% of the annual budget of MoSWRR will be devoted in ECCD services and 12% of the Ministry of Education’s budget will be invested in early preschool and kindergarten education.

“The development partners are willing to provide continued support for this comprehensive policy for young children and look to government to increase their investments in early childhood care and development” stated Mr. Michael Hassett, Counsellor, Head of Development Assistance, Australian Aid stated, on behalf of the Multi Donor Education Fund (MDEF).  The MDEF, comprising Australian Aid, Denmark, DFID (UK AID), the European Union and Norway, is the largest multi-donor partnership supporting education reform in Myanmar. 

“Quality early childhood interventions have the greatest impact on the most disadvantaged children, offering an unparalleled opportunity to alleviate the effects of inequality and to break cycles of poverty” said Mr Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar.  “A collaboration of all relevant Ministries, local and international NGOs, civil society organizations, faith-based organizations and private sector is crucial to ensure the effective implementation of this policy” Bainvel concluded. [Ends]

Background - UNICEF in partnership with Multi Donor Education Fund comprising Australian Aid, Denmark, DFID (UK AID), the European Union and Norway has been supporting the Quality Basic Education Programme (QBEP) (2012-2015) implemented jointly with the Ministry of Education, Department of Social Welfare of the Ministry of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement, and NGO partners.  This development of the Multi Sector ECCD Policy and Strategic Plan is one of its key interventions on early childhood.

UNICEF in Myanmar
UNICEF has been working with the Government and the people of Myanmar since 1950. In partnership with the Government and the civil society, UNICEF’s current focus of work aims at reducing child mortality, improving access and quality of education and protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation. For more information about UNICEF and its work in Myanmar. Please visit: Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information, please contact:
Alison Rhodes, Chief, Advocacy Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95-1-230 5960-69,
Sandar Linn, Communication Officer, Advocacy Communication and Partnerships Section, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95-1-230 5960-69,
Ye Lwin Oo, Communication Officer, Advocacy Communication and Partnerships Section UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95-1-230 5960-69,



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