Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD)

Stakeholders Draft SADC Inclusive ECDE Strategy

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17 April, 2019

From April 16 to 17, the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD), in partnership with the Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN), with financial support from Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) organised a two days consultation workshop on the development of the regional inclusive ecde framework/strategy 
at Holiday Inn Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The workshop brought different stakeholders from the region to brainstorm and provide input in the development of an Inclusive Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) Framework/Strategy that will guide SADC Member States on the implementation of inclusive education practices within early childhood programmes.

The workshop managed to bring together education experts, independent researchers, education activists, community ECDE implementers/facilitators, Government representatives from the education departments, and international financing institutions/development partners.

The workshop was officially opened by SAFOD’s Director of Programmes, Mr George Kayange, on behalf of SAFOD Executive Director. In his remarks, Mr Kayange said SAFOD was starting the process of developing a regional (SADC) strategy on Inclusive ECDE to fill the gap left similar strategies that focused on the brader inclusive education.

He quickly pointed out that SADC already had an Inclusive strategy on Education that did not consider ECDE Inclusivity. This meant that at the onset there were two options: to review the already existing education strategy to with the aim of integrating ECDE or to develop a fresh ECDE inclusive strategy. After consultation with various stakeholders it was agreed that it would be more strategic to start afresh developing the ECDE Inclusive strategy.

He said the stand-alone strategy was mainly aimed at elevating the visibility of ECDE issues and increasing the focus by SADC State Parties on ECDE issues.

"if, for example, we were focused on embedding a strategy framework for ECEDE within the five-year Southern Africa Inclusive Education Strategy for Learners with Disabilities (2016 - 2020), it would mean mobilization of resources for ECDE interventions would even be more challenging as ECDE would be hidden within the other equally challenging priorities within the broader education sector," he noted.

He, however, stressed that the new strategy would not really be “reinventing the wheel” but rather drawing on the successes from selected SADC member countries for benchmarking – hence the need to work collaboratively with various key stakeholders.

The main workshop facilitator, Ms Alice Kabwe from AfECN, said the wokshop was also intended to review the current trends in nurturing care for early childhood development and inclusion; outline key issues in inclusive education in SADC; identify regional strategic priorities for inclusive ECDE; and identify objectives, results and activities for strategic priorities. She said it was very important to focus on young children as it was a critical time in the development of a person.

"Nurturing care enables children to have the best start in life and provides a set of conditions for a whole society child centred approach to strengthening societies," she said.