On 5 September, the EU together with the Minister of Health and Social Services Kalumbi Shangula, the Deputy Minister of Education, Anna Nghipondoka, the Inter Team Representative Ms. Vanessa Ukca, UNICEF and UN Country Representative Ms. Rachel Odede and media attended the official launching of the National Integrated Early Childhood Development Campaign. The main aim of this campaign is to raise awareness on the importance of children's development and their first steps in life. The Ministry of Education said this is the time to expand Early Childhood Education Development (ECD) in Namibia, as many children are currently growing up in poverty and without access to early childhood education. The Deputy Minister of Education said: "Children matter now and need to receive the necessary attention". The Ministry emphasized the importance of a holistic approach, explaining that ECD is not merely sending a child to an early learning centre, but includes protection, early learning, proper health care and nutrition.
The Inter Team representative highlighted the significance of the joint efforts between Development Partners and three Line Ministries (Education, Health and Gender) in launching the Early Childhood Development Campaign and thereby sharing responsibilities and resources to close the gaps in this area. The UN and UNICEF Country Representative underscored the importance of partnership on ECD and said this collaboration and ECD supported programmes enable parents to have access to information and support, which empowers them to make good choices for their children and to obtain the required services.
The Head of Cooperation from the EU Delegation in Namibia, Mr. Achim Schaffert said the initiative gives a voice to all children in Namibia and gives parents a shared responsibility to ensure that their child's "first steps are the right steps". He urged fathers to play a more active role in caring for their children's emotional and developmental needs and said ECD starts at home. He thanked the Ministries of Education, Health and Gender Equality for driving this campaign and making children's interests at the centre of the nation's development agenda. He similarly commended the Waka Waka Moo Series, which shows the commitment of not only government, but private sector and Civil Society to ECD. This 17 episode TV series is home-grown and truly Namibia, offering culturally appropriate material in order to stimulate early learning in English and local languages. Mr. Schaffert furthermore informed the audience that the EU provides assistance amounting to N$ 400 million to the Education Sector in Namibia as budget support. "The EU is a long-standing Development Partner of Government and we are committed to continue supporting the country, whether through budget support, technical assistance and dialogue. We very much value this collaboration and partnership" the EU representative said.