'Early Childhood Care And Development Policy Struggling'

Financial and logistical constraints are the major constraints to the implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Development policy, panelists in Cape Coast have said. Almost all the stakeholders who are to ensure that the implementation of the policy have neither budgetary allocation nor basic logistics such as vehicles to carry out their operations smoothly, they said. This came up at the consultative meeting, on Tuesday, on the implementation of the policy in Cape Coast. The policy, being coordinated by the Department of Children, under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, was devised in 2004 to provide a range of services that promoted the survival, growth, development and protection of the young child. But 10 years down the line, the stakeholders said the policy had not seen its full implementation because of lack of resources and the local assemblies’ disinterest in child issues. According to Mr. Israel Akrobortu, a Senior Programmes Officer of the National ECCD Policy Committee, Section 16 of the Children’s Act mandates the local assemblies to protect the rights of children within their jurisdiction, and also liaise with governmental agencies like the Departments of Social Welfare and Children to promote children’s issues. Unfortunately, Mr. Akrobortu said, the assemblies had failed in this direction because Chief Executives at the Assemblies were interested in infrastructural development, which would earn them political points rather than creating a ‘child panel’, which they were mandated to provide under the Children’s Act to create the platform for the promotion of the policy. He urged the Regional Coordinating Council, a major stakeholder in the ECCD policy implementation to coordinate with the various assemblies in the region to factor the ‘child panel’ in their budgets in order to realize the objectives and targets of the policy. Giving the overview of the policy implementation, Madam Pearl Akpene Sah, a Programmes Officer of the National Committee, said though resource constraints were inimical to the policy implementation, immense strategies had been achieved by way of advocacy, capacity building, coordination and collaboration with key stakeholders and beneficiaries. She noted, however, that the National Secretariat of the ECCD Policy had been dissolved because the timelines set for the policy implementation had outlived their targets. Madam Sah called on the Regional Committee to be guided by the goals, objectives, and targets, to help achieve the implementation of the policy. On the achievements of the Regional Committee so far, Dr. Samuel Kwashie, the Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, said that the Central Region had seen a great reduction in high infant and under-five mortality rates for some time now. “No child has died from Polio and Measles infection since 2003,” he said, explaining measles used to be a major child killer. Again, maternal mortality had drastically reduced in the last decade, with the 2013 figure standing at 109 per 100,000 live births, a record, he said, was a massive improvement on previous years. Major stakeholders, who comprise the Regional ECCD Policy Committee, including the representatives of the Births and Deaths Registry, the Department of Community Development, the Ghana Education Service, the Ghana Health Service, non-governmental organizations, and the media, gave their contributions on the way forward towards the successful implementation of the school. Among the suggestions made by the panelists were that the National Secretariat should appeal to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for resource to enable the smooth implementation of the policy. The Government should consider taking up the education of primary pupils in private schools to help alleviate the suffering of parents.