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A photograph of a girl toddler lies in the debris of a destroyed building in the western town of Gulcuk — the epicentre of the 1999 earthquake in Turkey.


Effective parenting in Turkey

Only 12 per cent of children under six in Turkey benefit from ECD services since fees are prohibitive for the average Turkish family. But since 1994, the Government of Turkey and UNICEF have worked together to build a family- and community-based system of ECD as an alternative to the more expensive, centre-based pre-schools.

The Mothers’ Training Programme, operating in 24 provinces, is one part of this approach. In addition to working directly with mothers, other family members — fathers, older siblings and grandparents — also participate in the games and play activities for younger children. With all family members contributing to a more stimulating and interactive learning environment in the home, children score better in language and developmental tests. Plus the overall family environment is enhanced. In the words of one programme participant, “Now I am not hitting my child any more. My husband is not hitting me either.”

To reach as many families as possible, UNICEF joined with the media to produce a series of child development videos, The Better Parenting Initiative, covering the first eight years of a child’s life. Most parents caring for children at home are not aware of the developmental needs of early childhood. Both animated and live-action scenarios illustrate a child’s age-specific progression in language skills and in social, emotional, physical and motor development. Practical suggestions showing how parents can enhance development are acted out in exchanges between children and caregivers.

The videos reach a broad audience through national television broadcasts, and print materials linked to the videos are used to train the wide range of providers who work directly with families and young children. These video films have also become important components of the Mothers’ Training Programme, which reaches over 80,000 mothers in the country.


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