Stakeholders have urged media practitioners to prioritise reportage on Early Childhood Development (ECD) to ensure well-being of this segment of society in order for them to realise their full potentials.
The ECD is a period of life of children from conception to age eight, when they are supposed to develop certain skills and potential that would enable them achieve a brighter future.
The stakeholders include United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
The stakeholders made the call on Wednesday in Kano at a media dialogue on Early Childhood Development organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
Mr Olumide Osanyinpede, Assistant Director, Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, identified early childhood development as presenting an incomparable window of opportunity to make a difference in child’s life.
He identified essentials elements of ECD as nurturing and care, which entails health, nutrition, responsive care giving, safety and security, accessibility and quality learning such as pre-primary education.
Osanyinpede noted that through effective reportage of ECD, media professionals would influence community and religious leaders to support health services utilisation.
He commended UNICEF among other partners for being at the forefront in advancing the course of ECD.
According to him, ECD will improve the health of our children and greatly benefit the community and help in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The need to propagate ECD in families has become very urgent and important not only for the government but also for key partners and stakeholders.
“Use the medium at your disposal to educate the populace with ECD situation in Nigeria with particular reference to child development and well-being.
“You can also hold government accountable to its responsibility to leverage more resources for ECD, increase the knowledge among spouse, partners and family members on ECD.
“You should engage community mobilization team and volunteers to educate nursing mothers on the benefits of ECD through facilitating community dialogue which in a way will lead to achievement of SDGs,” Osayinpede said.
In his remarks, Mr Rabiu Musa, UNICEF Communication Officer, said the objective of the dialogue was to enlighten the media on the situation of ECD advocacy platform for improved media support.
According to him, the dialogue was also to create visibility for ECD situation and interventions in the country as well share experiences and challenges of ECD and proffer solutions.
“The forum would also help to increase ECD in the media with regard to in depth and analytical feature as well equip them with useful and relevant information that would help increase thorough and factual reportage on ECD,” he said.
Mrs Swadchet Sankey, Education Specialist, UNICEF, defined ECD as a maturational process resulting in an ordered progression of perceptual motor, cognitive, language, socio-emotional and self regulation of skills.
Sankey, who identified ECD period as ranging from conception to eight years, said it includes cognitive development, language, physical, social and emotional development. She said that any child denied of these developmental process would have his future hampered and would not be able to contribute meaningful to national economy. Sankey called for improved investment on ECD to sustain development and boost the nation’s economy.