Early childhood development crucial – Speaker

If we want to have successful learners and productive citizens, we need to start early and education alone is not sufficient.

These were the words of the Speaker of the Fijian Parliament, Hon. Dr Jiko Luveni while officiating at the 2017 Pacific Action for Early Childhood Development Conference at the Sofitel Resort and Spa on Denarau in Nadi this morning.

For a child to succeed in school, Hon. Dr Luveni said much was needed to take place before formal schooling commenced.

“When a child receives health care, good nutrition, early simulation and learning, and protection against violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, then this child is set for success and we as a nation is set to have a strong foundation,” she said.

“Getting this right the first time is easier and more effective than trying to fix them later. This means getting it right even before prenatal care and giving adequate support for pregnant mothers so that they are healthy and are able to deliver their babies safely.”

Hon. Dr Luveni said the Education Ministry needs to partner with health and nutrition, social welfare, child protection and finance to develop national programs that reached everyone, especially those in disadvantages communities.

“This provides the enabling environment for Governments to make efficient use of limited resources, streamlines the delivery of services and as research shows, the return on investments.”

As an early childhood champion, Hon. Dr Luveni added the development of early childhood was something she held dear to her heart.

“The momentum for early childhood development has been growing in the international stage, spurred in most part by its inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” she said.

“Let us work together to help achieve these ambitious goals and raise our children with all the support they need to allow them to become prosperous and successful people in life.”

Participants from 15 Pacific Island countries are represented at the Conference which will end on Thursday

The conference is being facilitated by UNICEF in conjunction with the World Bank Group and PRC4ECCE.