KIGALI, Rwanda - Beginning on Monday, November 6, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in partnership with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) and Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA), is hosting a six-day workshop for communication and early childhood development professionals in Rwanda. This workshop will engage subject matter experts in early childhood development (ECD) and communication, academia, media, animators, illustrators, graphic designers, singers, and people with disabilities to create age-appropriate and child-friendly content and materials in their respective fields.
Early childhood development (ECD) is an important area of focus. Evidence shows that 80 per cent of a child’s brain develops between the ages of 0 and 3 years. MIGEPROF and the Government of Rwanda have demonstrated their commitment to ECD through a revision of the National ECD Policy, and ECD has been prioritised in development plans like the National Strategy for Transformation. UNICEF continues to be the Government’s main partner for developing and implementing ECD programmes.
Despite this commitment, there remains a lack of age-appropriate communication content and material for young children in Rwanda. This content, such as songs, illustrations, television and radio programmes, is critical for engaging children at a young age and encouraging early learning and discovery.
“Adequate stimulation in the early years of life is essential so children can achieve their full development potential,” said Dr. Anita Asiimwe, the National Coordinator for Early Childhood Development.
An important component of this workshop, and an ongoing priority of UNICEF programming, is promoting inclusiveness for children with disabilities. Children and adults with disabilities will participate in the workshop in all aspects of production, sessions will be translated into sign language, and presentations given with closed captioning.
This workshop was planned as part of the anniversary celebrations for Itetero, Rwanda’s first radio programme for and by children. In October 2015, UNICEF partnered with Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) and Imbuto Foundation to create Itetero, meaning “children’s nurturing space” in Kinyarwanda. Itetero now airs every week on Radio Rwanda, teaching children Rwandan cultural values and improving their cognitive development through stories and drama sketches.
Arthur Asiimwe, Director General of RBA, hopes that Itetero will serve as an excellent example during this week’s workshop of the child-friendly content UNICEF, RBA and MIGEPROF hope to see more of in the future.
“We are very proud of Itetero and the positive engagement we have seen from our listeners so far,” he said. “We are even planning to move Itetero to television, which will engage even more children and their families.”
The six-day workshop will be fully interactive, with presentations and activities capitalising on the experience of partners such as Mashirika Creative and Performing Arts Group and Search for Common Ground. Workshop participants will create real examples of child-friendly communication materials as a catalyst for expanded projects and ideas.
“We commend the Government of Rwanda for their ongoing commitment to ECD, and we are proud to work with RBA as a leader in creating age-appropriate communication material for children,” said Ted Maly, UNICEF Representative. “We are excited to see the materials and content produced as a result of this workshop.”
This workshop resulted in a number of songs, radio spots, short stories and interactive illustrations which you can use to interact with your children. Check out these materials, download them and use them, and be inspired to create your own.
UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Rwanda, visit www.unicef.org/rwanda.