Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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DEAD SEA — The opening ceremony for the technical meeting of the National Early Childhood Development (ECD) took place on Tuesday at the Dead Sea.

The National ECD Team was formed in 2018 based on a partnership agreement between the National Council For Family Affairs (NCFA) and Plan International Jordan (PIJ). Its role involves overseeing the implementation of national strategies concerned with early childhood development, according to NCFA.

Ensuring that children enjoy all their rights is a “shared responsibility” that requires unifying the efforts of all concerned organisations, secretary-general of the NCFA Mohammad Miqdadi said in his welcoming remarks.

He noted that this event aims to introduce international networking and coordination mechanisms related to early childhood development in addition to exchanging expertise, overviewing the accomplishments of National ECD Team, identifying available opportunities to overcome the challenges it faces and working on developing the team’s action plan for 2023/2024 as well as a national vision for early childhood in Jordan.

Miqdadi added that the NCFA is committed to aligning its efforts with the Economic Modernisation Vision launched by His Majesty King Abdullah, which highlighted the importance of childhood and early childhood development. The vision suggested multiple national initiatives to develop curriculums and programmes for early childhood education and called for the establishment of a unified council for early childhood development, he said.

It also recommended launching a specialised database and reducing operational and licensing burdens borne by service providers in the sector, he continued. There are roughly 3.8 million children in Jordan under the age of 18 years, accounting for over 40 per cent of the population, while children under the age of nine make up approximately one-fifth of the population, according to Miqdadi.

He said that this underlines the importance of improving infrastructures that will contribute to improving the quality of services provided for children in addition to increasing the enrollment rate in early childhood education, which stood at 5.4 per cent for Kindergarten 1 (KG1) and at 63 per cent for Kindergarten 2 (KG1) in the academic years 2020-2021. In her address, PIJ’s Country Director Hamida Jahamah affirmed the organisation’s commitment to providing support and prioritising investments in early childhood programmes.

She also highlighted the tasks of the national ECD Team which involve coordinating and networking with all concerned stakeholders to unify efforts and achieve desired goals within a shared national vision.

The team’s achievements over the past few years involve providing technical support for reviewing national standards for kindergartens and nurseries, organising the National Early Childhood Development (ECD) Conference which resulted in the formation of significant partnerships and developing early childhood indicators related to education, protection, welfare, healthcare and nutrition, according to Jahamah.

Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Azmi Mahafzah said that increasing children’s access to quality early childhood education in Jordan, in a manner that aligns with the Royal vision and directives, is one of the ministry’s main “strategic priorities”. This will be achieved through building the capacities of human resources, increasing cooperation with concerned entities and investing in improving related curriculums, programs and infrastructures, he said.

Ghassan Issa, the general coordinator of the Arab Network for Early Childhood (ANECD) also spoke during the event.He noted that the ANECD has recently launched a memorandum of understanding with the NCFA to increase cooperation in knowledge production, research and training. Moreover, he said that the first Arab group for childhood research was launched in Jordan last month.

Other regional experts participated in the event virtually, including Rita Karam, President of the Higher Council for Childhood in Lebanon and Rihab Sandouka, Programme Manager at Juzoor for Health and Social Development, a Palestinian NGO.

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