THE Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) has urged legislators to push their governments to fund early childhood learning through the fiscus.
This came out on Tuesday during discussions on financing of early childhood development (ECD) by the Zimbabwe Network of Early Childhood Development Actors (ZINECDA) and the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (Sadc PF).
Sadc PF representative Mammehla Matamane urged Members of Parliament (MPs) to support sustainable development goals (SDGs) to do with education.
“We are looking into the importance of financing early childhood development together with MPs from different Sadc countries,” Matamane said.
“This is done to ensure that countries fast track the issues of attaining SDG 4 where it talks about ensuring that by 2030 all States are in a position to make sure that all boys and girls access education. We believe that there is need to take away the burden from poorer families because if education is being financed by the government, families will be able to access education in a much more affordable way.
“As Sadc PF, we are very much excited because this has enabled our MPs to have evidence-based information so that they can go back and be able to infuse early childhood development issues into their parliamentary work.”
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education chairperson Torerai Moyo (Zanu PF) told the same meeting that access to education was an indispensable human right which governments are obliged to provide to ensure no child is left behind.
“Investing in children is the right thing to do. This is not debatable. Children are the future of tomorrow and it is critical that we prepare them to take over when we are old or when we are gone,” he said.
“For southern Africa, the majority of young children are also negatively impacted by a range of social and economic inequalities, this is, indeed, worrying. There are various channels through which to fund ECD, the financing mechanisms can either be from public funds whereby there is a budget line allocation, block grants, subsidies, vouchers, parental and maternity leave policies, tax credits and refunds among others.
“There should be private funds from donations in cash or in kind, and workplace-based care for breastfeeding mothers, school fees payment and vouchers, as well as public private partnerships through matching funds for capital and investment initiatives to expand ECD services.”
ZINECDA national co-ordinator Naison Bhunu said: “Parliamentarians’ role is oversight, and so there is need for education financing when government introduces programmes meant for ECD.”