The Progress of Nations

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 The time to sow
 Commentary: Early childhood care

Putting children first

There can never be a single model of early childhood care, nor is one desirable. Experience shows that there are about as many effective approaches as there are needs.

We do know, however, that the best programmes are those concerned with the overlapping physical, intellectual and emotional needs of children. They approach child development as a holistic process and the child’s needs as interrelated. We also know that each community has to have the freedom and the resources to create, refine and improve its own best practices, because policies and practices that relate to the way people live their lives are the ones children and parents need.

The world can take great pride in the succession of extraordinary steps made over the past decade in adopting the Convention on the Rights of the Child – now ratified virtually universally – and working to achieve the goals agreed upon at the 1990 World Summit for Children.

Now, as we look ahead to the UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Children next year on those goals, it seems a very good time to rededicate ourselves to keeping up the momentum. We must continue arguing for, negotiating for and creating the best for children. Their needs should be given priority in the allocation of resources. Nations should commit themselves in principle, in policies, in law and in budgeting.

What is good for children is and must be a human development priority for everyone. Making it such a priority is the surest proof that a society is committed to ensuring the well-being of its people and stemming the tide of poverty, suffering and death that threatens to engulf us all.


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