The long week workshop started on Monday will engage subject matter experts in early childhood development (ECD) and communication, academia, media, animators, illustrators, graphic designers, singers, and people with disabilities to create age-appropriate and child-friendly content and materials in their respective fields.
Early childhood development (ECD) is an important area of focus. Evidence shows that 80% of a child’s brain develops between the ages of 0 and 3 years.
The Government of Rwanda have demonstrated the commitment to ECD through a revision of the National ECD Policy, and ECD has been prioritised in development plans like the National Strategy for Transformation. UNICEF continues to be the Government’s main partner for developing and implementing ECD programmes.
Despite this commitment, there remains a lack of age-appropriate communication content and material for young children in Rwanda. This content, such as songs, illustrations, television and radio programmes, is critical for engaging children at a young age and encouraging early learning and discovery.
“Adequate stimulation in the early years of life is essential so children can achieve their full development potential,” said Dr. Anita Asiimwe, the National Coordinator for Early Childhood Development.
An important component of the workshop, and an on-going priority of UNICEF programming, is promoting inclusiveness for children with disabilities. Children and adults with disabilities will participate in the workshop in all aspects of production, sessions will be translated into sign language, and presentations given with closed captioning.
The workshop was planned as part of the anniversary celebrations for Itetero, Rwanda’s first radio programme for and by children.
In October 2015, UNICEF partnered with Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) and Imbuto Foundation to create Itetero, meaning “children’s nurturing space” in Kinyarwanda. Itetero now airs every week on Radio Rwanda, teaching children Rwandan cultural values and improving their cognitive development through stories and drama sketches.
Arthur Asiimwe, Director General of RBA, hopes that Itetero will serve as an excellent example during this week’s workshop of the child-friendly content UNICEF, RBA and MIGEPROF hope to see more of in the future.
“We are very proud of Iteteroand the positive engagement we have seen from our listeners so far,” he said.
“We are even planning to move Itetero television, which will engage even more children and their families.”
The six-day workshop will be fully interactive, with presentations and activities capitalising on the experience of partners such as Mashirika Creative and Performing Arts Group and Search for Common Ground. Workshop participants will create real examples of child-friendly communication materials as a catalyst for expanded projects and ideas.
“We commend the Government of Rwanda for their ongoing commitment to ECD, and we are proud to work with RBA as a leader in creating age-appropriate communication material for children,” said Ted Maly, UNICEF Representative.
“We are excited to see the materials and content produced as a result of this workshop,”Maly added.