Investment in early childhood development programmes
Integrated early childhood development programmes that address the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of young children have in recent years received more attention and visibility because of their evident impact. Children who participate in various forms of these programmes are healthier, socially well adjusted and better prepared for learning experiences in later childhood.
Thus, the programmes help prevent school failure, which contributes to children dropping out and being recruited for full-time hazardous work. The more successful children are at school, the more persistent parents tend to be about keeping them there. At the same time, most early childhood development programmes involve a parent education component and are good entry points for educating both parents and children about the detrimental effects of full-time and dangerous work of children.
Box 4.2. Strengthening pre-school education - The Ministry of Education in the United Republic of Tanzania
Many children among farmers and shepherd families in the United Republic of Tanzania start to work during their: early childhood years and this is an obstacle to their entry into and completion of primary school. Therefore, the Ministry of Education launched a programme to bring children from poor families into school at an earlier stage and pre-empt their participation in child labour before they enter primary school. The goal was to motivate children to stay at school by preparing them for school and creating an interest for learning through early childhood education.
The project was conducted in five regions where the drop-out rates were high and children's participation in cattle-herding and domestic work clearly affected their school participation. A series of baseline surveys on school enrolment and child labour were conducted. Awareness-raising took place among school committees and ward coordinators about the need to set up early childhood centres and to educate them about child labour issues. Fifty pre-school teachers were trained and a manual for child labour was developed for use by primary school teachers and school committees.
The project succeeded in generating enthusiasm for school among children, parents and teachers. It is now government policy to provide for early childhood education. The Ministry of Education has also prepared a manual on child labour, labour laws and children's rights to be used in the primary school civics curriculum throughout the country.