Dedza district social welfare office has described lack of funding as the main challenge affecting the office in its efforts to promote early childhood development (ECD) education.
Dedza district social welfare Officer Hellen Simwaka made the remarks in an interview last week on the sidelines of a meeting with Members of Parliament, Councillors, traditional leaders and Members of civil society organisations which was aimed at assisting the office in lobbying for funds from the Local Development Fund (LDF) and Constituency development fund (CDF).
In her remarks, Simwaka said out of 340 ECD Centres in the district, only 50 centres have modern classroom blocks, a development which is due to inadequate funding which government through the Ministry of Gender allocate to the office.
She said learners in various ECD centres are learning in poor condition a problem which is affecting their daily classes.
“We called Members of Parliament, Councillors and CSOs to come to help us have good structures because children in some areas are learning in church buildings and trees. This is a problem. We need them to be learning in modern classes,” she said.
Simwaka added that, despite efforts being made by Non-Governmental Organisations such as ActionAid Malawi in constructing modern classroom blocks in some ECD centres in the district, there is a need for more funding in order to address the challenge in all centres.
Commenting on the development, Dedza District Council chairperson Leonard Selevasi who is also Mtakataka ward councillor said the council is concerned with the problem noting that the social welfare office cannot manage to deal with the challenges it is facing using the funds it receives from government.
“It is true the money that is going to the social welfare office is not enough, the money comes from government through the ministry of gender, women, children, disability and social welfares to the council as ORT, so the money is not enough that they (Social welfare office) cannot manage to construct modern buildings or structures for the early childhood development centres.” he said.
Selevasi also said it is very unfortunate to see that caregivers are receiving little sums of money which does not match with the work they do on daily basis in the ECD centres.
He however indicated that the council will not use funds from the LDF and CDF to support ECD.
On this he explained that he will discuss with the District Commissioner and other stakeholders on how to deal with the problem so that it should be addressed.
He said: “At the moment we cannot promise where the money will come from, it will not come from LDF or CDF but we will see in our plans on where to get the money to support children in ECD as this lies as the foundation for their Education.”
He however disclosed that the council will fight its level best to find organisations to support the program.
A recent report by Dedza Rights Advice Centre revealed that there are 4 Million children in need of the ECD in the country of which there are only 16,000 caregivers from the required 400,000, a development which is coming in due to lack of funds.