The period of early development from conception until children reach age eight (8) are the most important in terms of unlocking full potentials – and as such – for securing sustainable development. It is for this reason that access to comprehensive, quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes and services is recognised as both a fundamental right in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC is the overarching normative and legal framework for ECD and the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world. In Africa, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) was designed to retain the spirit as well as substance of the letter of the CRC, while at the same time having special provisions guided by the situations in Africa.
Through a series of webinars, the CSO Forum Secretariat together with AfECN, UNICEF and WHO sought to strengthen the capacity of CSOs in the area of ECD to ensure greater advocacy for young children in the child rights agenda. This series of capacity building meetings was a part of a long-term strategy to strengthen the capacity of child rights advocates in lobbying for the rights and welfare of all children especially the youngest, aged below eight (8) years.
The key objectives included to increase knowledge and skills in:
- Understanding the importance of the Early years in achieving sustainable development
- The Nurturing Care Framework and accompanying guidelines
- Current global and regional status of children and trends in ECD
- The role of child rights advocates in promoting holistic development for young children.
The events also aimed to facilitate cross-country sharing of experiences and knowledge exchange and to build consensus on the key aspects of an Africa-wide position paper on ECD that will guide states reporting, to be presented to the Committee of Experts by the CSO Forum.