What is Early Childhood Development (ECD) ?
According to The World Bank, 2010: “Early Childhood Development (ECD) refers to the physical, cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development of a child from the prenatal stage up to age eight. This development happens in a variety of settings (homes, schools, health facilities, community-based centers); and involves a wide range of activities from child care to nutrition to parent education. Providers of services can include public, private, and non-governmental agencies.”
Did you know?
- 85% of the human brain develops by age 5. It is more difficult to improve cognitive development later.
- 50% of a child’s cognitive capacity is influenced by his/her environment.
- 71 million children across Africa don’t reach their full potential due to poverty and poor health, nutrition and care.
Why is Early Childhood Development (ECD) so important?
The early years of children are a great window of opportunity to lay strong foundations for their lives. Acceptable health, nutrition, and early stimulation play a critical role for brain development and child well-being.
All over the world, poor children under the age of five fail to keep up with their more advantaged peers in physical, language, cognitive, and socio-emotional development. Without access to quality Early Childhood Development, poor children often fall behind before they even start with school. As they get older, the educational gap gets wider and wider: they are likely to perform poorly in school, earn less as adults, and engage in risky social behaviours.
Supporting early childhood development improves quality of life improving the health, nutrition, and education outcomes of children. Research shows that Early Childhood Development interventions benefit the poorest and most disadvantaged children the most even though these children currently are the least likely to have access to them. In addition, it is much more demanding and more costly to intervene later in children’s lives.
ECD focussed on the most disadvantaged children are the most cost-effective strategy to promote children’s success in school and life. Children who participate in quality ECD programs are school ready and learning is much easier when they begin school. They are less likely to repeat grades or drop-out of school, which reduces the overall costs of the education system. When they get older, they are more likely to earn more and less likely to engage in crime. Nobel Laureate James Heckman has calculated the returns on investment to ECD to be up to 18% – much higher than rates of return of other levels education. (http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTAFRREGTOPEDUCATION/Resources/444707-1291071725351/ECCD-factsheet-final.pdf 19 Sept 2019)
The Co-op Community Trust invests in ECD by supporting Sakh’ingomso ECD project in Humansdorp with four ECD centres on farms in the Tsitsikamma, Oysterbay and Gamtoos Areas.
The Trust also invests in Living Water NPO which is based in Oysterbay, Umzamawhetu.
We believe that we need to make progressive investments in our assets and one of our greatest assets is our children, especially those under the age of 5. They are our future leaders, farmers, teachers and politicians. We need to nurture them as best as possible for we will bear the fruits of our labour in a few years time.